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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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