Watson, Benjamin (2016) Thieves, Gypsies, criminals and spongers: Anti-immigration rhetoric and Fear of Crime among Eastern European Migrants. The “UKIP effect”? Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

A great deal of research has been conducted on fear of crime (FoC) over last six decades. Most of this inquiry has, however, focused on the study of FoC among the general public, as such, much less is known about the nature and impact of this fear upon immigrants. For decades in the UK, the subject of immigration has continually divided public opinion, a fact that the tabloid media and the political-right have sought to capitalize upon through the use of sensationalist anti-immigration rhetoric. Based upon the accounts of twelve A2 and A8 European migrants, this study assesses the effect that anti-immigration media and political rhetoric has on Eastern-European migrants’ fear of crime and the factors that aggravate and mitigate its impact.
A key finding of the study was that the majority of participants were not fearful of crime at all and did not believe that a risk of harm is exacerbated by hostile media or political rhetoric. For those who were fearful of crime, however, it was the experience of previous victimization that was most related to their fears. For these participants, hostile rhetoric was more threatening though not the main basis of their fears. For the majority of the participants, there were a number of mitigating (or protective) factors in their FoC, such as, their own understanding of their ethnicity, their English proficiency, the demographic of their local area, and their detachment from the groups that they saw as the target of the rhetoric. The study concludes that the rhetoric-FoC nexus is not linear and is subject to a multitude of individual and environmental factors that inform migrants’ perceptions of vulnerability, experience of FoC and the perceived aggravating role of rhetoric.

Thesis._Full_final_draft WATSON.pdf - Accepted Version
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