What Drives Anti-Muslim Sentiment? A Test of Rival Theories
37 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 12 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
This paper tests the validity of four theories in explaining anti-Muslim sentiment: realistic group conflict, value-based, or symbolic, conflict, intergroup contact and authoritarianism. The findings indicate that group conflict approaches may be of limited value in explaining what drives public hostility to Muslims. Rather, those who are symbolically threatened by out-groups and who hold a more authoritarian outlook tend to have more strongly negative views about Muslims. The findings also suggest that substantive contact with Muslims is likely to have a substantial effect on improving negative perceptions of this specific minority group. Somewhat surprisingly, however, anti-Muslim sentiment does not appear to vary systematically by locality, indicating that a potentially threatening local-level context is unlikely to be relevant in explaining why citizens are more or less hostile to Muslims.
Keywords: public opinion, Muslims, Islam, Britain
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation