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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Images of Nationhood and Tolerance of Ethnic Minorities: A Comparative Analysis of Western Europe


In recent years, scholars of nationalism have brought renewed focus on political and cultural conceptions of nationhood and citizenship. Drawing on this literature, namely the idea of citizenship regime types, I develop a macro-theoretical framework for understanding cross-national variations in tolerance levels toward ethnic minorities and immigrants. Specifically, I hypothesize that nation-states with more exclusive legal and cultural conceptions of citizenship will have lower aggregate levels of both political and social tolerance. Employing empirical data from a 1997 Eurobarometer survey, I then systematically test the framework, as well as competing explanations, for all member states of the European Union. The results confirm the hypotheses and indicate a strong and significant relationship between citizenship regime type and native populations' tolerance of ethnic minorities and immigrants.

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