Threat Perceptions of Migrants in Britain and Support for Policy

Richard Stansfield, Brenna Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Arguments that migrants represent a threat to the Britain are often cast in terms of impact on the economy and a criminal threat to Britain’s streets. We examine the impact of these attitudes on support for policies curtailing the rights of European Union (EU) and non-EU migrants in the United Kingdom separately, as well as their implications for support for punitive criminal sanctions. Using data on a nationally representative sample of Britons, results indicate that perceptions of migrants as a criminal threat have a greater effect on support for curtailing rights of EU migrants, more so than economic threat, suggesting that British citizens invoke deep rooted stereotypes about EU migrants as criminal when choosing their preferences. Criminal threat is also associated with support for more punitive criminal sanctions. Thus, threat narratives, especially narratives of immigrant crime, could be instrumental in public support for policy, but different narratives are associated with EU and non-EU migrants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-609
Number of pages18
JournalSociological Perspectives
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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