Cultural threat and anti-immigrant prejudice: The case of Protestants in Northern Ireland

Samuel Pehrson, Mirona Gheorghiu, T. Ireland

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Abstract

Using data from the 2002 and 2009 Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) surveys, we examine attitudes towards immigrant and ethnic minority groups in Northern Ireland. We suggest that Protestant and unionist communities experience a higher level of cultural threat than Catholic and nationalist communities on account of the ‘parity of esteem’ principle that has informed changes in the province since the Belfast Agreement of 1998. Our analyses confirm that, while there is evidence for some level of anti-immigrant sentiment across all groups, Protestants and unionists do indeed report relatively more negative attitudes towards a range of immigrant and ethnic target groups compared to Catholic, nationalist, or respondents who do not identify with either religious or political category. The analyses further suggest that their higher level of perceived cultural threat partially accounts for this difference. We suggest that cultural threat can be interpreted as a response to changes in Northern Ireland that have challenged the dominant status enjoyed by Protestants and unionists in the past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-124
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Volume22
Issue number2
Early online date10 Aug 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

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