420.3 The political context of discrimination in Europe: Assessing trends on the basis of the European social survey (ESS)

Friday, August 3, 2012: 9:30 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Irina TOMESCU-DUBROW , Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw , Poland
Kazimierz SLOMCZYNSKI , The Ohio State University
In Central and Eastern Europe, discrimination of ethnic minorities became more salient after the fall of communism, as society embraced party pluralism and freedom of speech. In light of the recent hostility toward minorities in both West and CEE countries, it has been argued that the surge in right-wing politics and nationalism more so than the recent economic world crisis, are fuelling discrimination. This paper uses the European Social Survey (ESS) to examine trends in discrimination from two points of view, and with respect to two different groups of people: in the first group are those who feel discriminated against because of their ethnicity, while the second group is comprised of people who espouse xenophobic attitudes. Our analysis covers over 20 European countries in the period 2002-2010. The main research questions are: Controlling for ethnic composition in each country, is feeling of discrimination more prevalent in countries with stronger xenophobic attitudes than in countries more tolerant to outsiders? To what extent do political factors influence both the feeling of being discriminated against, and intolerant attitudes, beyond economic factors?  Multilevel regression analysis on the ESS data provides the statistical means to examine the effects of country-level and individual-level determinants, and their interactions, on feeling discriminated and on xenophobic attitudes through time. Political and economic variables at the country level include index of democracy, index of ethnic representation in parliaments, index of right-wing sentiments, index of consumption level, and index of income inequality. On the individual level we focus on perception of governmental functioning and one’s evaluation of personal standard of living. The analysis demonstrates how these variables are related to xenophobic attitudes, controlling for national, ethnic and religious allegiances. At the end of the paper, we discuss theoretical implications of our findings for analysis of democracy and inequality in Europe.