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How does local-level contact shape attitudes towards EU migrants? A comparison of British, Romanian and Polish residents' views in two English local authorities in the context of Brexit

Bulat, Alexandra; (2020) How does local-level contact shape attitudes towards EU migrants? A comparison of British, Romanian and Polish residents' views in two English local authorities in the context of Brexit. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines how attitudes towards EU migrants are shaped at the local level. There is a large literature on ‘skill’ and ‘ethnic hierarchies’ in attitudes towards migration. Studies tend to employ quantitative methods, treating migrants’ skill level and origin as separate topics of inquiry, rather than qualitatively analysing how they intersect in people’s subjective expressions of attitudes. Migration research in the UK is mostly conducted either from British or migrant perspectives, as opposed to comparatively analysing both migrant and non-migrant voices. This thesis makes an original contribution by illustrating nuanced attitudes from both British and migrant participants within a comparative approach, showing how skill and ethnic hierarchies intersect in the construction of attitudes towards EU migrants. All empirical chapters are based on in-depth, reflexive qualitative analysis of local-level attitudes towards EU migrants, drawing on a framework of localised contact theory. To situate individual attitudes within national-level narratives, I analyse 120 EU referendum campaign materials (ephemera) containing text on immigration. My fieldwork in 2017-2018 includes interviews with 63 British, Polish and Romanian residents, 15 local politicians (councillors and MPs) and observations recorded through fieldnotes. I compare attitudes in one of the most multiethnic (the London Borough of Newham) and one of the most monoethnic local authorities in the UK (Tendring in Essex). I argue that EU migration, usually portrayed as a national issue in media and political debates, has asymmetric local-level impacts for my participants. Interviewees’ attitudes are informed, challenged and changed mainly through local anecdotal experiences, but are framed through mediated contact (media, political and community narratives). Direct localised contact shapes residents’ understanding of four key concepts – contribution, community, control and certainty. These understandings influence their overall attitudes towards EU migrants, which are situated within an overarching narrative of change.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: How does local-level contact shape attitudes towards EU migrants? A comparison of British, Romanian and Polish residents' views in two English local authorities in the context of Brexit
Event: University College London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > SSEES
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106442
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