Community-Level Postmaterialism and Anti-Migrant Attitudes

Matt Buehler published “Community-Level Postmateriailsm and Anti-Migrant Attitudes: An Original Survey on Opposition to Sub-Saharan African Migrants in the Middle East” in International Studies Quarterly.

Abstract: Why do native citizens of the Middle East and North Africa express greater opposition to certain types of migrants, refugees, and displaced persons? Why, particularly, do they express greater opposition to sub-Saharan African migrants? This article investigates these questions, leveraging results from an original, nationally representative survey of 2700 native Moroccan citizens. We find support for traditional theories, mostly developed from studies of Western Europe, that hypothesize that the perceived cultural, economic, and security threats migrants pose provoke citizen opposition to certain migrant subtypes. Diverging from past research, however, we argue that the importance of these threats waxes and wanes dramatically at the subnational level due to variation in community-level postmaterialism. In areas where economic development is high, and many citizens live in European-style conditions, postmaterialism—preoccupation with cultural, identity, and security-based concerns—helps to predict greater citizen opposition to sub-Saharan African migrants. However, in areas where economic development is low, and many citizens do not live like Europeans, this greater opposition to African migrants derives from economic concerns, notably job competition. While postmaterialism is considered an individual-level phenomenon, our work highlights its importance at the community level: The personal circumstances of citizens and the circumstances of the community in which they live interact to condition which perceived threats become more (or less) important to explaining anti-migrant attitudes.