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In recent years Czech public discourse has been highlighting the belief that there are profound and ever-deepening cleavages within Czech society that also have a significant geographic dimension. One of the issues on which public opinion differs greatly in different regions is the perception of migrants and migration in general. The aim of this paper is therefore to evaluate the extent to which this perception indeed differs across regions, and what factors can explain the variation. For this purpose, a questionnaire survey was fielded among secondary-school students in three Czech cities, which proved the existence of significant regional differences in attitudes towards migration. However, these differences greatly depend on how the attitudes are measured – by far the most pronounced differences are found in the attitudes towards the refugees and immigrant groups associated with the recent wave of refugees, attitudes towards whom were three times more negative among students in the Zlín region than among students in Prague. These differences can only partly be explained by the different characteristics of the regions and students. By contrast, friendly contact with foreign nationals seems to be the most vital explanatory variable. The article also presents a model that illustrates the possible process by which individual factors may shape students’ attitudes towards migration.
In this study, we contribute to scholarly work on European Union (EU) legitimacy with regard to migration and asylum policy. We do so through an in-depth exploration of the relationship between attitudes towards the EU and migration among the Czech public. Even though there is a body of literature focusing on this topic, there is a gap when it comes to understanding its complexities, especially concerning 'pro-immigrant' and 'pro-European' positions. We bring a cultural-sociological perspective on meaning-making processes into conversation with theories on the legitimacy of the EU, an analytical move that helps us reveal the nuances in attitudes towards the EU and migration. Our results unpack the narratives surrounding the EU and migration and highlight the apparent cleavage between the 'pro-immigrant' and 'anti-immigrant' discourses that underpin migration attitudes among the Czech public. We find that notwithstanding some divisiveness, there exists considerable convergence along the three dimensions of legitimacy: input, output and throughput. Indeed, both camps challenge EU legitimacy, but they do so for different reasons and focus on different dimensions. The output aspect of EU legitimacy is the most problematic and criticised within both types of discourse. The input dimension is problematic only within the 'anti-immigrant' discourse, and the throughput dimension of EU legitimacy is rather neglected within both discourses. In empirical terms, these findings imply that, in the eyes of the Czech public, the EU-even for those who accept it as a legitimate actor with regard to asylum and migration policy-fails to deliver satisfactory results.
Content available remote ‘We have always been like this’: the local embeddedness of migration attitudes
This article contributes to the local turn in migration research. It explores how the city context shapes migration attitudes among residents, resulting in the formation of imagined communities of 'Locals' and 'Others'. Relying on qualitative research methods and cultural sociological theories of cultural armatures of the city, cultural repertoires, and symbolic boundaries, we examine the cases of two Czech cities, Teplice and Vyšší Brod. We find that the specific characteristics of the local history, geography, and demography of the cities give rise to distinct cultural repertoires that shape how their residents view migration and the presence of people with a migratory background in their city. We identify two prevailing cultural repertoires, local cosmopolitanism in Teplice and Czech nativism in Vyšší Brod, which inform both the patterns of boundary work towards residents with a migratory background and their positioning on local hierarchies of otherness. We argue that to understand the role of local context in the formation of migration attitudes, it is not sufficient to study only the characteristics of cities; how these characteristics are made meaningful by the people who live in them should also be considered.
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