Racism and Social Media: Post-Secondary Youths' Observations of Peer Attitudes Towards Canada's Response to the Syrian Crisis on Facebook and Twitter

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 12:50
Oral Presentation
James BAKER, McMaster University, Canada
While Canada’s response to the Syrian crisis has been commendable, there are those within Canadian society who view this response with apprehension. Indeed, Angus Reid (2016) noted that while 44% of Canadians oppose the Liberal's plan to resettle Syrian refugees, 58% of Canadians aged 18-34 supported it. When the broader public express disparaging views or opinions about refugees, the result, whether intentional or not, is the reinforcing of negative prejudices and stereotypes. Using Integrated Threat Theory, this paper explores the social media observations of post-secondary youth regarding Canada's response to the Syrian Crisis. While primarily a psychological and social-psychological theory, Integrated Threat Theory has been adapted to sociology, particularly when examining, for example, racial threat (Stephan & Stephan 2000). While there is evidence to support the argument that these youth perceive their peers as viewing the Syrian arrivals as a threat, interestingly, they respondents were generally supportive of the Government's plan.