Immigration policies that include or exclude: a South African public opinion study of immigration policy preferences

SOURCE: Social Dynamics
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2016
TITLE AUTHOR(S): S.Gordon
KEYWORDS: CITIZENSHIP, IMMIGRATION, IMMIGRATION POLICY, PUBLIC OPINION, XENOPHOBIA
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9481

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Abstract

South Africa is a regional hub for migration on the African continent and is home to a growing documented international migrant community. Foreigners in the country, however, often face violations of their established rights and are the victims of abuse. This paper examines public support for policies that would exclude international migrants from the country. Data from the 2013 South African Social Attitudes Survey, a nationally representative opinion poll (N = 2739) of all adults in the country, are used. This poll found that many South Africans favoured restrictive immigration policies and opposed granting foreigners the same rights as citizens. Multivariate analysis is employed to discern determinants of this opposition. Respondents' perceptions of the population sizes of foreigners in their communities did not affect support for inclusion. It can be inferred, therefore, that the growth of the immigrant population has not provoked exclusionary attitudes in the country. Rather, results revealed, it is national pride (cultural versus political) and fears about the consequences of immigration that drive such attitudes. Programmes and policies designed to improve public perceptions of how foreigner impact society and the promotion of a nationalism characterised by inclusive multicultural civic patriotism may improve public support for the inclusion of international immigrants.