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Study Links Patriotism and Attitudes Toward Immigrants

Daniel K. Pryce, Ph.D.

A new study by North Carolina Central University professor and researcher Daniel K. Pryce that examines American attitudes toward immigrants and immigration could become the standard against which future studies will be compared.

Pryce, an assistant professor of Criminal Justice, published his findings last month in the journal Social Science Quarterly. He undertook the study to examine U.S. residents’ opinions about immigration before the election of President Donald Trump, whose administration has taken a number of steps to restrict immigration to the United States.

“The first direction these findings point to is that overall attitudes toward immigration remained relatively consistent with what has been found in the past,” Pryce said. “Second, I introduced a new variable regarding world citizenship.”

Individuals who identified as “citizens of the world” were more likely than others to express pro-immigration sentiments, as well as to consider themselves patriots of their nation.

“Being a world citizen does not negate national pride; it simply means that such an individual may be more open-minded and thus more welcoming of immigrants,” Pryce writes in the publication.

Pryce drew on data from the 2014 General Social Survey, a scientific poll conducted every two years by NORC at the University of Chicago, an independent research organization. Ninety-three percent of the respondents were listed as U.S. citizens and 7 percent as non-citizens.

“With immigration the most contentious issue in America today, these findings give us a baseline for future studies to show whether there has been a change of attitude,” Pryce said.

He said he hopes to learn how federal policies to curb immigration enacted by the Trump administration might affect immigration sentiments across the country. And he won’t be the only researcher likely to pose that question.

“I expect a flurry of scholarly work on this to come out soon,” he added. “My prognostication is that after hearing from Donald Trump and some of his supporters, attitudes may get worse.”

In fact, it was not surprising that xenophobia was the strongest predictor of attitudes toward immigrants and immigration in the Pryce study.

So far, evidence of aggression toward immigrants has been limited to anecdotal scenes, or documented “pockets,” of aggression, “like the woman in a Puerto Rico shirt being told by a stranger in Chicago that she shouldn’t wear a shirt like that in America.”

“People are confronting other people in public spaces. We didn’t have these things before. Confrontations are very brazen now. There seems to be an attitude of: ‘You don’t look like the people in my neighborhood so you should not be here.’”

Based on Pryce’s study, titled U.S. Citizens’ Current Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Immigration: A Study from the General Survey, most Americans’ thoughts on immigrants correlate to feelings of patriotism, nationalism, xenophobia and world citizenship.

The survey asked respondents to agree or disagree with various statements, such as “Immigrants are generally good for America’s economy” and “Generally speaking, people should support America even if the country is in the wrong.”

 “Patriotic Americans are more welcoming of immigrants,” he said. “I did not find a statistically significant relationship between nationalism and pro-immigrant attitudes.”

According to Merriam-Webster.com, patriotism is defined as “love for or devotion to one’s country,” while the definition for nationalism goes beyond that to include “exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations.”



Published: Friday, August 03, 2018
by Senior Writer and Editor, Renee Elder
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