The Attitudes of Native Swedes Toward Refugees : A Case Study on the Role of Social Identity
Abstract: Refugee-host community relations is a topic of increasing relevance, and sois the need to understand what shapes such relations. Sweden, having ahistorically liberal refugee and immigrant policy, accepted the biggestnumber of refugees in its recent history during the 2015 refugee crisis - theamount of which was the biggest per capita ever recorded in an OECDcountry. The attitudes of native Swedes toward refugees can be tied towhether they socially identify themselves as pluralists or nationalists, twoopposing social identities which, especially in the years surrounding therefugee crisis, are observed harboring hostile attitudes toward each other.Pluralists are inclined to have positive attitudes toward refugees; nationalistsare prone to have negative attitudes. While these two groups can beobserved, it remains ambiguous to what extent the Swedish populationidentifies with them. The political popularity of openly pluralist andnationalist political parties gives some notion; however, the inherentcomplexity of Swedish politics makes this method of deduction overlysimplistic. Seemingly contradictory, while support for multiculturalism andrefugee acceptance is decreasing, the percentage harboring very negativeattitudes toward migrants is historically and presently quite low, and agrowing number of Swedes are observed having increasingly positiveattitudes toward refugees and immigrants in their everyday interactions. Asfuture events unfold, it will be interesting to see what identity “the silentmajority” of the native Swedish population will sympathize with, as this willno doubt affect their attitudes toward refugees and change refugee-hostcommunity relations in Sweden.
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