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A Critical Cultural Sociological Exploration of Attitudes toward Migration in Czechia
What Lies Beneath the Fear of the Thirteenth Migrant

Authors: Jaworsky, Bernadette Nadya, Radka Klvaňová, Ivana Rapoš Božič, Alica Rétiová, and Jan Kotýnek Krotký

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

A Critical Cultural Sociological Exploration of Attitudes toward Migration in Czechia: What Lies Beneath the Fear of the Thirteenth Migrant qualitatively deciphers what lies beneath the fears about the imaginary “thirteenth migrant” and explores how individuals make sense of migration in nontraditional destination countries, utilizing critical, cultural sociological methods to explore the deep meaning-making processes that inform migration attitudes.

ISBN: 978-1-66692-741-2


‘We Have Always Been like This’: The Local Embeddedness of Migration Attitudes

Authors: Ivana Rapoš Božič, Alica Synek Rétiová, Radka Klvaňová

Journal: Czech Sociological Review


This article contributes to the local turn in migration research. It explores how the city context shapes migration attitudes among residents, resulting in the formation of imagined communities of ‘Locals’ and ‘Others’. Relying on qualitative research methods and cultural sociological theories of cultural armatures of the city, cultural repertoires, and symbolic boundaries, we examine the cases of two Czech cities, Teplice and Vyšší Brod. We find that the specific characteristics of the local history, geography, and demography of the cities give rise to distinct cultural repertoires that shape how their residents view migration and the presence of people with a migratory background in their city. We identify two prevailing cultural repertoires, local cosmopolitanism in Teplice and Czech nativism in Vyšší Brod, which inform both the patterns of boundary work towards residents with a migratory background and their positioning on local hierarchies of otherness. We argue that to understand the role of local context in the formation of migration attitudes, it is not sufficient to study only the characteristics of cities; how these characteristics are made meaningful by the people who live in them should also be considered.

The full article can be found here: https://doi.org/10.13060/csr.2023.030​


The legitimacy of EU migration and asylum policy among the Czech public

Authors: Jan Krotký, Bernadette Nadya Jaworsky, Petr Kaniok

Journal: Czech Sociological Review


In this study, we contribute to scholarly work on European Union (EU) legitimacy with regard to migration and asylum policy. We do so through an in-depth exploration of the relationship between attitudes towards the EU and migration among the Czech public. Even though there is a body of literature focusing on this topic, there is a gap when it comes to understanding its complexities, especially concerning ‘pro-immigrant’ and ‘pro-European’ positions. We bring a cultural-sociological perspective on meaning-making processes into conversation with theories on the legitimacy of the EU, an analytical move that helps us reveal the nuances in attitudes towards the EU and migration. Our results unpack the narratives surrounding the EU and migration and highlight the apparent cleavage between the ‘pro-immigrant’ and ‘anti-immigrant’ discourses that underpin migration attitudes among the Czech public. We find that notwithstanding some divisiveness, there exists considerable convergence along the three dimensions of legitimacy: input, output and throughput. Indeed, both camps challenge EU legitimacy, but they do so for different reasons and focus on different dimensions. The output aspect of EU legitimacy is the most problematic and criticised within both types of discourse. The input dimension is problematic only within the ‘anti-immigrant’ discourse, and the throughput dimension of EU legitimacy is rather neglected within both discourses. In empirical terms, these findings imply that, in the eyes of the Czech public, the EU—even for those who accept it as a legitimate actor with regard to asylum and migration policy—fails to deliver satisfactory results.

The full article can be found here: https://doi.org/10.13060/csr.2023.003


Press release: The sociological team at Masaryk University conducted a study of the Czech public's perception of migration

How does the Czech public perceive migration and people who come to live here from other countries? The research of the Masaryk University sociological team tried to answer these and other related questions, the main goal of which was to explain the increase in anti-migration attitudes in the Czech Republic that appeared in our society after 2015.

The full press release can be found here.


Foreigner, migrant, or refugee? How laypeople label those who cross borders

Authors: Ivana Rapoš Božič, Radka Klvaňová, Bernadette Nadya Jaworsky

Journal: Migration Studies


In this article, we seek to exercise reflexivity in migration research by looking at the symbolic boundary work that sustains laypeople’s understanding and use of specific labels. We do so through a qualitative, cultural sociological investigation of migration attitudes in Czechia. We explore the labels foreigner, migrant, and refugee, commonly used labels in Czech migration discourse. In short, we argue that research participants rely on different grounds for boundary work, informed by available cultural repertoires, when characterizing foreigners, migrants, and refugees. While boundary work related to the label foreigner calls upon criteria of citizenship and perceived cultural closeness, the boundary work concerning the other two labels—migrant and refugee—involves the moral criteria of deservingness. Our study addresses three major shortcomings in migration studies. First, the opinions of laypeople influence public policies and approaches to migration, yet in-depth qualitative studies of migration attitudes are scarce. Second, even though migration attitudes shape the character of the receiving context for people who cross borders, how laypeople engage with labels remains understudied. Finally, we heed the call for a ‘reflexive turn’ in migration studies, arguing that researchers must remain reflexive, not only about labels they use, but also how such labels are understood and used by research participants.

The full article can be found here: https://doi.org/10.1093/migration/mnac035.


‘What do we see when we look at people on the move’? A visual intervention into civil sphere and symbolic boundary theory

Authors: Bernadette Nadya Jaworsky, Alica Rétiová, Werner Binder

Journal: Visual Studies


Photographs of migrants can evoke powerful reactions. Since the ‘migration crisis’ of 2015–16, politicians, media, and the public have all expressed strong opinions about people who cross borders. Within the civil spheres of Western democracies, debates about who belongs as a ‘good citizen’, and who should be excluded as an ‘anticivil’ outsider, result in consequences for migrants and locals alike. In this article, we engage in a visual intervention into theories of the civil sphere and symbolic boundaries. Through a cultural sociological analysis of 80 interviews conducted amongst Czech residents, we examine the boundary work surrounding two photographs of people crossing borders. The Czech context represents a compelling case through which to do so; Czechia is neither a primary transit or destination country, yet migration issues figure prominently in its civil sphere. Our findings are based on thematic and reflexive questions that organise the different grounds for boundary work amongst the RPs: ‘What are we looking at’? ‘Who are they?’ and ‘Should “we” help “them”’? The broader implications of our findings concern the role of visuality in conceptions of democratic civil spheres and the presence of boundary work that delineates who belongs and who does not.

The full article can be found here: https://doi.org/10.1080/1472586X.2022.2145990.


Shifting categories, changing attitudes: A boundary work approach in the study of attitudes toward migrants

Authors: Alica Rétiová, Ivana Rapoš Božič, Radka Klvaňová, Bernadette Nadya Jaworsky

Journal: Sociology Compass


Considerable research exists that examines attitudes toward migrants. Most studies are quantitative, relying on surveys or survey experiments, but a growing body of literature explores such attitudes from a qualitative perspective. At the same time, the study of symbolic boundaries and how people use cultural repertoires of meanings to draw distinctions between “us” and “them” is increasing. This review looks at research, both quantitative and qualitative, which has put these two streams of work into conversation with one another. We organize this work along three dimensions: (1) the micro‐level of individuals and their life‐worlds; (2) the meso‐level of negotiation among the moral communities of civil society; and (3) the macro‐level of institutions and policy. We also highlight those studies that cut across levels. By doing so, we help bridge the quantitative/qualitative divide. Studying attitudes toward migrants through the concept of symbolic boundaries allows us to apply a more sensitive and meaning‐centered approach toward attitude formation, contestation and change and to explore the linkages to available cultural repertoires.

More about the research here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/soc4.12855.


The „thirteenth immigrant“: Researching the views of the Czech public on migration

Authors: Bernadette Nadya Jaworsky, Radka Klvaňová, Ivana Rapoš Božič, Alica Rétiová a Jan Krotký

Portal: Migraceonline.cz

In 2016, the European Union developed a quota system for accepting refugees, in which Czechia should have taken in 2,691 arrivals from Southern Europe. Instead, it accepted just 12, thus violated its legal obligations and the principle of solidarity. Among the Czech public, there was widespread anxiety about the issue of migration, and the situation has persisted. According to a poll conducted in May 2019 (Hanzlová 2019), 63% of the Czech population is completely against accepting refugees from war-affected countries, 31% is willing to accept them under the condition they will return to their country of origin after the conflict is over and only 2% is positive about accepting refugees. The poll also reveals a strong perception of refugees as a security threat; 72% of the population perceives refugees as a threat to security of the Czech Republic, 84% to Europe and 75% as a global threat.

More here: https://migrationonline.cz/en/e-library/the-thirteenth-immigrant-researching-the-views-of-the-czech-public-on-migration 

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