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Abstract

This dissertation examines the economic basis of political opposition to immigration in Europe in the twenty-first century. The aim of the project is to go beyond analyses of the economic effects of immigration, cultural differences, ethnic and national identity, and partisanship, and instead to understand the impact of unevenly distributed socioeconomic risks. It provides three main findings related to the European politics of immigration in this century. First, increasing exposure to unemployment risks not only worsen economic anxieties but also lead to feeling relatively worse-off compared to fellow citizens. Second, demand for exclusionary immigration policy has little resemblance of a cultural backlash but instead can be explained through the structural transformations in the jobs markets and subsequent demands for insurance. Under conditions where labour market institutional contexts privilege natives, risk-based differences are less conducive to becoming polarised. Third, there is an apparent heterogeneity of motivations within the electoral base of the radical-right between those who vote to insure themselves against future threats and those who hold prejudice against immigrants. The multi-level and multi-country comparative analyses of the project covering the period since the 2000s lay the foundation for a link between uneven exposure of economic risks in advanced postindustrial democracies and subsequent reactions against immigration. Ultimately, I show both how recent socioeconomic inequalities shape citizens’ political responses towards immigration and how, in turn, these demands determine the trajectory of European politics in this century.

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