Theses Doctoral

A Structural Explanation for Anti-Immigrant Sentiment

Zamora, Anna Elisabet

Scholarship argues that anti-immigrant sentiment originates at the individual-level, is evenly distributed within countries, and is primarily manifested in a single form as hostility toward the out-group. In A Structural Explanation for Anti-immigrant Sentiment, I challenge these three claims and propose a novel approach to the sociological understanding of inter-ethnic contention. My explanation for anti-immigrant sentiment builds upon prevailing theories within political sociology, which center on the role of the state (Evans et al. 1985; Scott 1998; Skocpol 1979). While scholars have long acknowledged the role of the state in the regulation of immigration flows and their incorporation (Brubaker 1992; Castles and Miller 1993; Geddes 2003; Lahav 2004; Massey et al. 2002; Messina 2007; Money 1999; Sassen 1996; 1999; Zolberg 2006), only limited research has examined the extent to which the state, through its regulations and institutions, may also affect public attitudes toward immigration. I argue that, as states establish the parameters for native-foreigner interaction, they play an active role in the establishment of inter-ethnic relations. I use a mixed methods research design that combines surveys, interviews, ethnographic fieldwork, and socio-demographic and policy estimates to examine the distribution of anti-immigrant sentiment across three Belgian and three Spanish regions. Using regions as units of analysis facilitates isolating the role of structural conditions in the manifestation of citizens' hostility. Three empirical chapters show that distinctive manifestations of anti-immigrant sentiment emerge in geographical enclaves with specific demographic, economic, political, and cultural characteristics. Findings from this research contribute to prevailing theories of anti-immigrant sentiment, and its relation to state regulation of immigration and integration. Moreover, I consider how current policies might be revised in light of these findings and I suggest new approaches to the regulation of multi-ethnic environments, as well as to the strengthening of social cohesion in these environments.



  • thumnail for ZamoraKapoor_columbia_0054D_11522.pdf ZamoraKapoor_columbia_0054D_11522.pdf application/pdf 1.93 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Sassen, Saskia
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2013