Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants.

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This paper is intended as a primer on the drivers influencing public attitudes towards refugees and migrants, and what they mean for organisations working on refugee and migration issues. This paper canvasses this large literature base to draw out commonalities and highlight potential entry points. Findings show that engaging effectively with public attitudes towards refugees and migrants requires understanding the real world concerns, emotions and values around which attitudes are formed. These efforts work best when clearly rooted in national and local contexts, and the nuances of public attitudes within them. Traditional approaches to public engagement, such as ‘myth-busting’, may have exacerbated negativity and are unlikely to resonate beyond those who are already supportive. While evidence remains important in influencing policy debates, strategies must acknowledge its limitations as a persuasive tool. Emotive and value-driven arguments may have more traction than facts and evidence. Successful strategies might highlight the manageability of the situation, while emphasising shared values.

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Dempster, H., Hargrave, K. (2017). ‘Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants’. Chatham House and Overseas Development Institute Forum on Refugee and Migration Policy Initiative (Working Paper No. 512).

About This Study:

Intervention(s): Varies
Intervention Duration: Varies
Relevant ORR Program: Preferred Communities, Public/Private Partnership Program, Refugee Career Pathways, Refugee School Impact Program, Refugee Support Services
Study Type: Literature review
Full Text Availability: Free
Direction of Evidence: Inconclusive or mixed impact
Strength of Evidence: Suggestive
Population(s): Refugees
Gender(s) of Participants: All
Age(s) of Participants: Multiple Age Groups
Region(s) of Origin of Participants: Multiple Regions

Relevant Evidence Summaries:

The evidence was reviewed and included in the following summaries: