Host hostility and nativism

Authored by: Mehdi Bozorgmehr , Anny Bakalian , Sara Salman

Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415779722
eBook ISBN: 9780203863299
Adobe ISBN: 9781135183493


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Host hostility and nativism have not received much conceptual and theoretical attention from researchers. Consequently, there are few publications on the topic. The purpose of this chapter is to survey and bring together the disparate descriptive and historical literatures. We focus on hostility and nativism directed against immigrants and refugees (i.e., the foreign born) or people of immigrant stock (first and second generation). We examine the US experience in detail and compare it with other major immigrant-receiving advanced industrial countries in Europe. We first define concepts that are subsumed under the rubric of host hostility such as nativism, racism, xenophobia, and its specific variant Islamophobia. We compare and contrast how newcomers were treated during the two massive immigration waves that occurred both at the turn of twentieth century (1880–1930) and in the twenty-first century (1965 to present) in the USA. We use landmark cases to illustrate how the interests of the host population (majority and native-born minorities) resulted in hostility against immigrants at various periods triggered by economic, political or social motives. Next, we review the key sociological theories of intergroup conflict. We conclude with a discussion of the consequences of host hostilities. While restrictive immigration laws that limit entry to migrants are exclusionary, they do not directly pertain to immigrants already living in host societies and therefore are not included in our analysis.

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