Understanding the attitude-behaviour relationship: a quantitative analysis of public participation in anti-immigrant violence in South Africa
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Xenophobic violence is a fundamental obstacle to the mental, social, and economic wellbeing of international migrants living and working in South Africa. Currently, there is substantial contention on what determines participation in this type of behaviour. This article looks at the role of perceived threat and whether such attitudes are driving both past participation and potential participation in anti-immigrant violence. Data from three rounds (2015-2017) of the South African Social Attitudes Survey (N=9,292) was used for this study. Although a majority were found not to have taken part in violence, many people indicated a willingness to consider participating in anti-immigrant violence in the future. A multivariate (multinomial) regression approach was employed to identify those factors most associated with violent participation. Perceived threat was shown to be a robust predictor of potential participation in violence. This suggests that anti-immigrant perceptions could have a mobilising effect, spurring individuals towards acts of violent xenophobia.