Unpacking attitudes on immigrants and refugees: a four-country comparison

Koen Matthys, Family and Population Studies, Centre for Sociological Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven
David De Coninck, KU Leuven
Marlies Debrael, KU Leuven
Rozane De Cock, KU Leuven
Leen d’Haenens, KU Leuven

Given the current polemic political and societal climate surrounding migration and refugees in particular, this study investigates the population’s perception concerning these issues in three different cultural and media contexts: Flanders (Dutch speaking part of Belgium), Wallonia (French speaking part of Belgium) and Sweden. An online survey among a representative sample of the adult population in these three regions details respondents’ media use and attitudes on refugees and migration. Our main hypothesis states that different representational preferences within the media are reflected in parallel public opinion preferences and government measures. Differences in public opinion in terms of gender as well as socioeconomic status will also be highlighted. Taking into account the MIPEX-scores (Migration Integration Policy index) for each country, we can carefully frame our data within governmental measures concerning integration. Next to the mapping of news media use, immigration attitudes and the possible concordance between these variables, our study focuses on the issue importance of the refugee topic compared to other political issues, according to public opinion. The combination of public opinion preferences concerning refugees and migration, governmental measures concerning integration and the different representational preferences of the media, coupled with the public’s credibility of the media, will allow us to unfold the triangular relationship between public, policy and media agendas. Special attention will be paid to the possible discrepancy in attitudes on immigrants on one hand and refugees on the other. Does our sample make any distinction between these two subgroups, and if so, in what ways?

Presented in Session 1235: Posters