What Drives Anti-Muslim Sentiment? A Test of Rival Theories

37 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 12 Aug 2011

See all articles by Lauren McLaren

Lauren McLaren

University of Nottingham

David J. Cutts

University of Manchester

Matthew Goodwin

University of Manchester

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

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

McLaren, Lauren and Cutts, David J. and Goodwin, Matthew, What Drives Anti-Muslim Sentiment? A Test of Rival Theories (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1901717

Lauren McLaren (Contact Author)

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

David J. Cutts

University of Manchester ( email )

Matthew Goodwin

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, N/A M13 9PL
United Kingdom

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