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Immigration attitudes, nationalism, and racism

Scholarship in this area investigates the causes and consequences of anti-immigrant sentiment, racism, and nationalism.

Building on a number of theoretical traditions and utilizing a variety of methodological approaches and data sources, our research projects fall under two broad themes:

Prejudice and nationalism in a comparative perspective

Social scientists have contributed significantly to our understanding of the origins and nature of prejudice. Therefore, much of our research focuses on how prejudice develops and changes over time. Many of our attitudes, including prejudice towards out-groups, form when we are young and may be relatively stable over the life course. Therefore, it is of critical importance to study prejudice among adolescents. We investigate the consequences of different social contexts, such as peer groups, the family, schools, and the surrounding society, for change in adolescents’ prejudice over time. For example, our research aims to understand:

  • What are the effects of having friends who are prejudiced or to grow up with parents who articulate antipathy towards out-groups?
  • Do people really become less prejudiced with more education?
  • Schools in Sweden have a responsibility to promote tolerance, but how does that actually work in practice?

While adolescence is important for the development of both prejudice and tolerance, changing social, economic, and political contexts may also affect attitudes during adulthood. Therefore, our research also investigates how the broader context contributes to prejudice. We examine how attitudes are related to differences between regions within countries as well as differences between countries. We examine how prejudice and its behavioral manifestations depend on changing circumstances. This includes, for example, the political context, such as the rise of nationalist parties, and economic conditions like unemployment or austerity. As much of our research focuses on prejudice towards immigrants, we also examine reactions to changes in levels of immigration and subsequent ethnic, racial, and religious diversity.

In addition to our research on prejudice, we also examine related phenomena such as nationalism, national identity and tolerance. Our goals are both to explain these phenomena and to understand their implications for individuals and society. Thus, we also conduct research on nationalism and democracy as well as nationalist parties and their supporters.

Everyday racism, refugee reception and integration

We are interested in the ways in which race and ethnicity are practiced in everyday settings and how racial and ethnic inequality are structured. We try to understand how social relations relates to power in formal relations within organizations as well as informal relations. We view racism as intersecting with other structures such as space, gender, and class. We seek to highlight the multiple and various ways that racism expresses itself in everyday life. For instance:

  • How are racialized structures produced and/or resisted in everyday situations within institutions like the education system, the health care system, or in different places of employment?
  • How are perceptions of us and them created in different contexts across time?
  • How do those perceptions affect different social groups in the Swedish society?

We also examine how refugee reception is organized and in what way this affects refugees’ possibilities to take an active part in society. For example:

  • What are the consequences of specific forms of reception?
  • Which activities introduces refugees to the Swedish society as opposed to integrating refugees into the Swedish society?
  • What are the working conditions for those responsible for reception and integration within municipalities?
  • What consequences do different types of resident permits have for the receiving municipalities as well as for the refugees themselves?