Development, Inequality, and Discrimination in Europe: A Comparison of Post-Socialist and West European Democracies

Friday, July 18, 2014: 8:45 AM
Room: 419
Oral Presentation
Irina TOMESCU-DUBROW , Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
Kazimierz M. SLOMCZYNSKI , The Ohio State University
This paper uses the European Social Survey 2002-2012 to examine trends in discrimination, taking into account two different groups: those who feel discriminated against because of their ethnicity, and those who espouse xenophobic attitudes. The country-level relationship between feelings of discrimination and xenophobic attitudes calls for explanations that consider economic development and social inequality. A complimentary research question is: To what extent does social inequality influence feelings of discrimination and intolerant attitudes, beyond economic-development factors, individuals’ socio-demographics and various personal outlooks? Our analysis covers post-socialist and West European countries (N>16) in the period 2002-2012. 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. Economic variables at the country level include national income per capita and Gini index of income inequality. At the individual level, we focus on social stratification – education, occupational status, and income – subjective evaluations of standard of living, as well as a range of attitude measures. Results demonstrate how these variables are related to ethnic discrimination and xenophobic attitudes, controlling for political views and national orientations. We show that in post-socialist countries ethnic discrimination became more salient as society embraced party pluralism and freedom of speech. At the same time, in both post-socialist countries and Western democracies right-wing and nationalistic attitudes are strongly fuelling discrimination. At the end of the paper, we discuss theoretical implications of our findings for analyses of development, inequality, and democracy.