Social Trust, Authoritarianism and Immigration Attitudes
In recent decades, the issue of immigration has started to attract scholarly attention while being considered as problematic by the host communities of many developed nations. Accordingly, researchers in the related fields have attempted to discover the main dynamics of the growing anti-immigrant attitudes in those countries receiving the majority of the immigrant population. In the existing literature, there have been similar theoretical and empirical studies that focus on these relations between the authoritarianism and social trust and developing varying attitudes and perceptions for immigrants.
While, with high social trust, people are to have more positive attitudes towards immigrants, people with low social trust are to have more negative attitudes towards immigrants, which was a part of this paper’s hypothesis. If social trust provides more social cohesion and integration, it can be argued that social trust has an important role in the attitudes towards immigrants in Western societies that are rich in social capital and trust. Accordingly, in such societies, it is reasonable to hypothesize that high social trust would have an impact on developing a positive attitude towards immigrants.This paper aims to explore the effect of social trust and authoritarianism on developing anti-immigrant attitudes within the context of contemporary American society. Based on the data from the 2016 ANES Time Series Study and with the methodology of OLS regression analysis, the study tests the following hypotheses: (1) low social trust and high levels of authoritarianism have strong influence on people’s attitudes towards immigrants and (2) the effect of social trust on developing negative attitudes towards immigrants varies by education level. Using the OLS analysis, we find that low levels of social trust and high levels of authoritarianism are strongly associated with having anti-immigrant attitudes. We also find that the relationship between social trust and negative attitudes towards immigrants is greater for people who have a bachelor’s degree than for people who do not.
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