Public Attitudes Toward Immigration Policy Across the Legal/Illegal Divide: The Role of Categorical and Attribute-Based Decision-Making

Public Attitudes Toward Immigration Policy Across the Legal/Illegal Divide: The Role of... Scholars debate the relative strength of economic and ‘socio-psychological’ sources of anti-immigrant sentiment. However, the literature often fails to distinguish legal from illegal immigration and therefore overlooks a major instance in which this debate is moot. To address this issue, we develop a theory that recognizes two different modes of evaluating immigrants: “attribute-based” judgment, in which respondents weigh immigrants’ desirability based on individual characteristics—human capital, race, language ability, and so on—and “categorical” judgment, which disregards these altogether. Categorical judgments arise when a policy issue triggers blanket considerations of justice or principle that obviate considerations about putative beneficiaries’ individual merits, instead evoking overriding beliefs about the desirability of the policy as a whole or casting the entire category as uniformly deserving or undeserving. We use experimental evidence from two national surveys to show that the principal distinction between attitudes toward legal and illegal immigration is not in the relative weight of immigrants’ attributes but the much greater prevalence of categorical assessments of illegal immigration policy, much of it rooted in rigid moralistic convictions about the importance of strict adherence to rules and laws. Political Behavior Springer Journals

Public Attitudes Toward Immigration Policy Across the Legal/Illegal Divide: The Role of Categorical and Attribute-Based Decision-Making

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Springer US
Copyright © 2015 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Political Science and International Relations; Political Science; Sociology, general
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    Dancygier, R; Saunders, E
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    Dunaway, J; Branton, RP; Abrajano, MA
  • Public attitudes toward immigration
    Hainmueller, J; Hopkins, D
  • Public finance and individual preferences over globalization strategies
    Hanson, GH; Scheve, K; Slaughter, MJ
  • Political ideology: Its structure, functions, and elective affinities
    Jost, John T; Federico, Christopher M; Napier, Jaime L

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