A C A D E M I C   A R T I C L E S

Scholarship

White or Foreign? Differentiating Perceptions of the Racialization of National Identity in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand

Abstract Past literature has established that often in a white-majority society, a national label is associated with the white population more than people of other ethnic origins. Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand share many historical and institutional similarities, making them valuable comparative cases. While scholars have researched national identity to varying degrees in these countries, the gap remains in comparative analysis of perceptions of national identity. This thesis first analyzes comparative public opinion data to establish differences in the degree to which national identity is racially-exclusive in the case countries. Second, it compares historical immigration policy, multiculturalism policy and programs, and ethnic activism in each country to understand what causes varying levels of racialization. The data analysis reveals ‘American’ as the most racially-inclusive national identity and ‘Australian’ as the least. The thesis also finds that presence (or lack) of ethnic activism can best explain the variation between the four countries, while the institutional variables were inconsistent with the variation. These results contribute to understandings of the drivers of national identity construction and lend support to arguments in the wider public opinion literature that social movements are more influential for opinion formation than legislation. The surprising result that multiculturalism policy was not mapped with more inclusive national identities also provides policymakers with insight on the effectiveness of different policy pathways to promote inclusion. Additionally, given the extensive negative consequences of exclusion documented in psychology literature and for civic engagement, these results illuminate pathways towards more inclusive societies.

Playing the Race Card: Did Racism Cause Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Brexit?

Abstract Following the 2016 referendum on continued UK membership of the European Union, many attempts were made to explain its result. There has been consensus that the issue of immigration played a primary role in the Leave campaign and Brexiteers’ minds. The reasons for this anti-immigrant sentiment have been explored, with economic and cultural concerns at the fore of the literature. Critically, currently missing from the debate is whether racism played a substantial role in causing anti-immigrant sentiment in the context of Brexit. This article uses new public opinion data from 2018 to investigate the extent to which racism motivated the Leave vote. It found that racism was an important predictor of referendum vote choice, even when economic concerns were held constant. Among all levels of financial satisfaction, people respond to their sociological concerns when making a political determination about immigration. Despite efforts from elites at the fore of the Leave campaign to rid the debates of racism, exclusively economic arguments proved to be a façade for private racist attitudes of many Leave voters. While concern over cultural pluralism is likely a complementary factor, this article finds the link between anxieties over skin color and anti-immigrant sentiment.
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