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Resources, Group Conflict and Symbols: Explaining Anti-Immigration Hostility in Britain



This article analyses the causes of variation in attitudes to immigration policy in the UK. The key theoretical approaches emphasised are: the role of self-interest; group conflict over resources; and group conflict over important symbols of Britishness. The connection between perceptions of immigration and crime is also investigated. Based on the 2003 British Social Attitudes Survey, the findings indicate that self-interest has very little bearing on opposition to immigration and that British citizens instead appear to be most concerned with threats to ingroup resources posed by immigration, threats to the shared customs and traditions of British society (particularly those posed by Muslims) and – to a lesser extent – the potential for increased crime that may result from immigration.

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