Love thy neighbour? The impact of political and religious elite discourse on immigration attitudes

Paterson, Ian (2017) Love thy neighbour? The impact of political and religious elite discourse on immigration attitudes. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Over the last three decades, and most recently during the Brexit debate, migration has increasingly been framed as a security issue in the UK and beyond. Amidst what has become a divisive and at times toxic debate on migration, the importance of developing a nuanced understanding of the security-migration nexus, particularly regarding the construction of immigration attitudes, is more pressing than ever. While research has determined a series of variables that impact on immigration attitudes, the influence of elite cues has been underexplored and restricted to political elites and political parties. Moreover, the analysis of the content of migration cues espoused by UK elites has been underdeveloped. Drawing on and extending the Copenhagen School’s securitization theory and applying a mixed-methods approach, the aim of this thesis is to contribute to our understanding of how immigration attitudes are shaped. Using discourse analysis, the central migration frames from the four largest UK-wide parties (Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP) are identified, between 2005-2015. The thesis then expands on this limited set of actors to include a previously neglected, but potentially highly influential group – religious elites – and conducts a discourse analysis of elite migration messaging for the two largest UK faiths (Anglicanism and Catholicism). Unsurprisingly political elite cues present migration in predominantly negative terms (securitizing frames). This is in contrast, however, to the predominantly positive migration cues (desecuritizing frames) from religious elites. Nevertheless analysing discursive constructions of migration alone cannot determine whether these elite cues are having any effect on public attitudes. Therefore, quantitative analyses using data from the European Social Survey are introduced to connect elite discourse to immigration attitudes – in securitization parlance, to ‘bring in the audience’. The findings from the statistical analyses broadly support the argument that elite cues can influence immigration attitudes, and therefore contribute to the de/construction of security issues. Overall this thesis enriches our understanding of the drivers of immigration attitudes, the discursive de/construction of migration as a security issue and the role of non-traditional elite actors in the de/construction of migration as a security issue. More broadly, the thesis also speaks to the strengths and limitations of securitization theory both theoretically and methodologically.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Securitization theory, migration, religion, mixed methods, elites, discourse analysis, public opinion, UK politics.
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Funder's Name: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Supervisor's Name: Karyotis, Dr. Georgios and McLaren, Professor Lauren
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Mr Ian Paterson
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8642
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2018 15:37
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2018 08:19

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