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Title: Stories or Statistics? Immigration and the Rise of the Radical Right in Western Europe
Authors: Bird, Lizzie
Advisors: Meunier Aitsahalia, Sophie
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2017
Abstract: The start of the European “refugee crisis” in 2013 has coincided with the growing electoral success of Radical Right Parties (RRPs) in Europe. Many commentators have thus assumed a linear relationship between the rapidly increasing migration flows and the rise of European far right parties. This thesis probes this conventional wisdom and asks: What has been the relationship between migration and the success of the radical right in Western Europe since the end of the Cold War? Based on a variety of literatures linking migration and radical right parties, this thesis develops and tests four main hypotheses about the relationship between migration and the radical right. The first two hypotheses examine the impact of actual flows and stocks of migration on support for RRPs, while the next two hypotheses explore the impact of the perceived volume of migration by examining the salience of migration in public discourse: H1 analyses migration flows, H2 migrant stocks, H3 migration salience in the media, and H4 migration salience in political discourse. I use a mixed methods research design to test these hypotheses, conducting quantitative research across fifteen countries in Western Europe for H1 and H2, and primarily qualitative research of three case studies (the UK, France and Germany). The central finding is the absence of a relationship between migration flows or stocks and RRP success. Instead, I find evidence to support a close relationship between both media salience and political salience of migration and RRP success (H3 and H4) across the three case studies. I also find great variance between countries, which I argue can be explained by the difference in perception of immigration as an economic or a symbolic threat. This leads to a secondary conclusion that in countries where the economic threat of migration is salient, migration flows and stocks are likely to coincide with RRP success; whereas in countries where the symbolic threat of migration is salient, migration flows and stocks will not coincide with RRP success.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2023

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