We have no idea — same analysis, different results

In a recent paper, Akira Igarashi and James Laurence look at anti-immigrant attitudes in the UK and Japan. Like my 2019 paper in JEMS, they and how they highlight the limited research on non-Western countries, but they analysis they do is much more similar to what Sjoerdje van Heerden and I did in Urban Studies. Them like us relied on panel data to get a better handle on changing attitudes to immigrants. Them like us looked at the share of foreigners in the area (this relates to theoretical expectations that individual attitudes to immigrants reflect changes in the share of foreigners in the area; we refer to the same theories). We both used fixed-effect panel models. They find that “increasing immigration harms attitudes towards immigrant”, while we report that “a larger change in the proportion of immigrant residents is associated with more positive views on immigrants among natives” — yes, the exact opposite!

Need another example? Several studies examine the impact of sudden exposure to refugees on attitudes to immigrants and votes for radical-right parties. Such sudden exposure happened for example in Austria and Germany in 2015. In separate analyses, Andreas Steinmayr 2020 finds a clear increase in support for the radical-right, as we find in the work by Lukas Rudolph and Markus Wagner. Max Schaub, Johanna Gereke and Delia Baldassarri, by contrast “record null effects for all outcomes”. Same situation, same strategy to obtain the results.

We could now start the detective work, examining the small differences in modelling, ponder about the impact of how we define neighbourhoods, invoke possible differences between the countries (are the Netherlands an expectation, when the UK and Japan yield the same results? — not likely). Or we could admit how little we know, how much uncertainty there is in what we do, how vague our theories are in the social sciences that we can come to quite different conclusions in quite similar papers. I guess what we can see here is simply a scientific search for answers (it’s not like our research output would otherwise disagree so clearly). It’s probably also a call for more meta-level research: systematic analyses that synthesize what we do and don’t know, because even though individual papers sometimes contradict, we know quite a lot!

Heerden, Sjoerdje van, and Didier Ruedin. 2019. ‘How Attitudes towards Immigrants Are Shaped by Residential Context: The Role of Neighbourhood Dynamics, Immigrant Visibility, and Areal Attachment’. Urban Studies 56 (2): 317–34. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098017732692.

Igarashi, Akira, and James Laurence. 2021. ‘How Does Immigration Affect Anti-Immigrant Sentiment, and Who Is Affected Most? A Longitudinal Analysis of the UK and Japan Cases’. Comparative Migration Studies 9 (1): 24. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40878-021-00231-7.

Rudolph, Lukas, and Markus Wagner. 2021. ‘Europe’s Migration Crisis: Local Contact and Out‐group Hostility’. European Journal of Political Research, May, 1475-6765.12455. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6765.12455.

Ruedin, Didier. 2019. ‘Attitudes to Immigrants in South Africa: Personality and Vulnerability’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 45 (7): 1108–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2018.1428086.

Schaub, Max, Johanna Gereke, and Delia Baldassarri. 2020. ‘Strangers in Hostile Lands: Exposure to Refugees and Right-Wing Support in Germany’s Eastern Regions’. Comparative Political Studies, September, 001041402095767. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414020957675.

Steinmayr, Andreas. 2020. ‘Contact versus Exposure: Refugee Presence and Voting for the Far-Right’. The Review of Economics and Statistics, May, 1–47. https://doi.org/10.1162/rest_a_00922.

Zschirnt, Eva, and Didier Ruedin. 2016. ‘Ethnic Discrimination in Hiring Decisions: A Meta-Analysis of Correspondence Tests 1990–2015’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42 (7): 1115–34. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2015.1133279.

The Austrian People’s Party: An Anti-Immigrant Right Party.

In a new paper with Leila Hadj Abdou, we examine the profile of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) with regard to immigration. While we put a question mark in the title of the article, we conclude in the affirmative: Yes, we can consider the ÖVP an anti-immigrant party.

To reach this conclusion, we systematically examine the electoral manifestos of the party between 1994 and 2019 — following work I have done with Laura Morales. We can demonstrate that in the past the ÖVP held more ambiguous positions, but especially after 2017 the party has positioned itself more clearly against immigration, especially Muslim immigrants and their descendants as a ‘cultural other’ to the Austrian population. We argue that this change is due to the restructuring of the ÖVP into a leadership party.

Hadj-Abdou, Leila, and Didier Ruedin. 2021. ‘The Austrian People’s Party: An Anti-Immigrant Right Party?’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2020.1853904.

Ruedin, Didier, and Laura Morales. 2019. ‘Estimating Party Positions on Immigration: Assessing the Reliability and Validity of Different Methods’. Party Politics 25 (3): 303–14. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354068817713122.

Protest Movements in Asylum and Deportation — Out Now

The book of the Taking Sides project is out now as an e-book: “Protest Movements in Asylum and Deportation“. It’s open access, so there’s no reason not to read it!

This comparative project examines protest against deportations in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. In some ways, it is a follow-up to the FP-7 project Support and opposition to Migration (SOM), where we examined the politicization of immigration more widely. The politicization of asylum, and particularly politicization in favour of asylum seekers and against their deportation was not treated much in SOM. Taking Sides includes an extensive media analysis of newspapers in the three countries, alongside many in-depth case studies. My contribution was more on the quantitative analysis of the media study, and in chapter 5 we summarize similarities and differences across the three countries, 1993 to 2013. We show that the frequency of anti-deportation protests has developed differently in the three countries, and outline a shift in the main actors in these protests, and with that a shift in repertoires. There’s a clear uptake in failed asylum seekers (potential deportees) to participate in these protests.

We differentiate between solidarity protest and case-specific protests as different kinds of protests. This is a slightly different vocabulary to what my colleagues Johanna Probst and Dina Bader used in their Social Movement Studies paper which draws heavily on the case studies. Overall we find little evidence that there is a transnational movement orchestrating protests against deportations, with many local protests seemingly taking place independently of each other. While some of these protests are also against deportations more generally, many of them focus entirely on the case at hand. The protest is not against deportations, but against the deportation of a particular asylum seeker who is considered ‘integrated’ and ‘deserving’ to stay.

The book includes chapters that outline the context of the protests: across countries, and across time within these countries, focusing on political institutions or legal changes. One of the chapters asks what makes a successful protest against deportation, pushing it quite hard what can be said with the data at hand. We don’t have a research design that would allow a systematic comparison between successful and unsuccessful cases, but the qualitative case studies offer some useful pointers where more rigorous research should start. What’s also intriguing is that the difference between successful and unsuccessful protests is not clear cut if one follows the cases over time. It is not uncommon for individuals to be deported (i.e. unsuccessful protest), yet the individual returning at a later stage (i.e. successful in preventing the long-term deportation). The qualitative data also provide insights on the strategies actors use in protesting against the deportation of asylum seekers, with several chapters outlining particular protests in detail.

Probst, Johanna, and Dina Bader. 2018. ‘When Right-Wing Actors Take Sides with Deportees. A Typology of Anti-Deportation Protests’. Social Movement Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/14742837.2018.1456916.

Ruedin, Didier, Sieglinde Rosenberger, and Nina Merhaut. 2018. ‘Tracing Anti-Deportation Protests: A Longitudinal Comparison of Austria, Germany and Switzerland’. In Protest Movements in Asylum and Deportation, 89–115. IMISCOE Research Series. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-74696-8_5. Some supplementary analsis here: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2756235

Estimating party positions on immigration: Assessing the reliability and validity of different methods

ppqa_23_3.coverIt’s been in the making for a long time, but I’m happy to announce that Laura Morales and my paper on estimating party positions on immigration is now available from Party Politics. In the paper we provide a systematic assessment of various methods to position political parties on immigration based on their electoral platforms. We do this for Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK, between 1993 and 2013. There high levels of consistency between expert positioning, manual sentence-by-sentence coding, and manual checklist coding; and poor or inconsistent results with the CMP/MARPOR, Wordscores, Wordfish, and the dictionary approach. An often-neglected method – manual coding using checklists – offers resource efficiency with no loss in validity or reliability. Now there is really no excuse any more for using old CMP data and pretend that they really were about immigration… (with the new subcodes in the most recent codebook things will probably improve for the CMP/MARPOR positions).

We’ve started this as an internal project for the SOM project (hence 7 of the 8 countries), simply because we (thought we) needed party positions on immigration over time. Wary of the time it takes to manually code party manifestos, we tried a few methods. There are two more we have tried but not pursued to the same extent, namely using a dictionary of keywords and Wordfish estimates on the entire text of the party platforms (i.e. without manually selecting the parts of the manifestos that are about immigration). These are not ‘dead’ yet, but we need further tests to ensure we know what they measure.

There’s an 102-page supplement available from the journal’s website.

Campaigning in Radical Right Heartland

I had the pleasure to read Oliver Gruber‘s new book Campaigning in Radical Right Heartland. Focusing on Austria — home of the FPÖ — Oliver provides a detailed picture of party competition around an increasingly salient issue: immigration. The book is exceptional in that it starts in 1971 and thus is able to trace how the issue and party politics around it have evolved. Intriguing is for example how immigration has moved from the Greens towards the FPÖ in terms of salience, yet in terms of frames used there was no comparable shift. I will surely refer to it whenever my own research on the politicization of immigration touches Austria.

With a dual focus on party manifestos and press releases, Oliver’s results are surely robust, and with attention paid to twenty or so different subtopics and ten frames, Oliver heeds Joost Berkhout and my call to pay more attention to this level of analysis.

I was intrigued by the detailed frame analysis, and how frames were used to infer party positions. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to compare my own manifesto-based party positions with Oliver’s frames-based ones, but at first glance the different methods agree.

While it delivers on depth and attention to developments over time, the book doesn’t offer much in terms of comparison to other countries. I would have liked a full discussion of how the findings in Austria translate to other cases — especially because I am convinced there’s much to be learned. In this sense I can only recommend the forthcoming book from the SOM project, which includes Austria alongside six other Western European countries (it’ll come out soon with Routledge).

Oliver shows that the politicization of immigration is driven by party ideology and issue ownership. With developments over time covered in detail, the book will offer new insights to those interested in party competition and how the mainstream parties react to a popular challenger like the FPÖ.

Gruber, Oliver. 2014. Campaigning in Radical Right Heartland: The Politicization of Immigration and Ethnic Relations in Austrian General Elections, 1971 – 2013. Zürich: LIT Verlag. ISBN: 9783643905178

Ruedin, Didier, and Laura Morales. 2012. “Obtaining Party Positions on Immigration from Party Manifestos.” Presented at EPOP.

Ruedin, Didier. 2013. “Obtaining Party Positions on Immigration in Switzerland: Comparing Different Methods.” Swiss Political Science Review 19(1):84–105. DOI: 10.1111/spsr.12018

Van der Brug, Wouter, Gianni D’Amato, Joost Berkhout, and Didier Ruedin, eds. 2015 (forthcoming). The Politicisation of Immigration: A Comparative Study of Seven Countries (1995-2009). Routledge.