Reporting a large-scale investigation of prejudice (‘group-focused enmity’) across minority groups in eight European countries, German NGO Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung have published ‘Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination: a European Report‘ [pdf] by Andreas Zick, Beate Küpper, Andreas Hövermann.
Alongside five other prejudices (sexism, homophobia, anti-Muslim attitudes, anti-immigrant attitudes, and racism) the research includes antisemitism, operationalised as agreement with the following statements:
- Jews have too much influence in [country].
- Jews try to take advantage of having been victims during the Nazi era.
- Jews in general do not care about anything or anyone but their own kind.
- Jews enrich our culture.
There was significant variation in the responses across the different European states, with Britain and The Netherlands manifesting the lowest levels of antisemitic attitudes. However, in both Britain and The Netherlands there was relatively high agreement with the additional statements:
- Considering Israel’s policy I can understand why people do not like Jews.
- Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.
From the report:
“The two additional statements on the current policies of Israel provide the following picture: About half the respondents in Portugal, Poland and Hungary see anti-Semitic sentiments as based on Israel’s political activities, while around 40 percent of respondents in most participating countries affirm the drastic assessment that the Israeli state is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians. In Poland 63 percent of respondents share that view.”
From the methodology, I’m not finding the status of these “additional statements” clear with respect to the numerical means calculated for each given prejudice. Whereas this research is primarily concerned with exploring right-wing populist or extremist attitudes, the latter two statements may be more likely to identify antisemitism across the political spectrum than the first four. The difference in responses between the first four and the latter two indicate an area for future investigation – indeed, from the summary to the section on Political Attitudes and Prejudice:
“The further right respondents place themselves in the political spectrum, the more likely they are to hold prejudices against the target groups under consideration here. However, we found prejudices to be stronger among respondents at the extreme left-wing end of the spectrum than among the moderate left. In fact, respondents who classified themselves as extreme left were just as susceptible to group-focused enmity as those who regarded themselves as political moderates.”
One possible explanation for this may be the prevalence on the extreme left of authoritarian attitudes, which go hand in hand with a rejection of diversity. On the other hand, the extreme libertarian left stands militantly against any repressive expression of religion and may, for example, bring a view of religion as a tool of power to bear when posed a question like “Islam is a religion of (in)tolerance”.
More general findings: demography affects group-based enmity. Prejudice in general is negatively correlated with educational achievement and (independent of educational achievement) income, and there is moderate or strong correlation between the prejudices against outgroups. Despite a generally linear relationship between age and prejudiced attitudes, antisemitism is higher in the youngest age group surveyed (16-21 year olds) than the next-oldest (22-34 year olds).
Despite (unless I’ve misunderstood) some methodological grey areas concerning the calculation of mean levels of a given prejudice, and the decision not to give specific attention to Europe’s largest minority group, the Roma, this report poses and answers many good questions and is considerately written for readers who are not initiated into social research. It provides background, in inset boxes, to the statistical tests and ideological constructs deployed, and there are plenty of references to the theory of populist and extreme right political views such as authoritarianism, social dominance orientation and rejection of diversity.
The substantial section on Determining and Preventative Factors is of particular interest, relating explanatory factors such as security orientation, social interaction, universalism and anomie to Fiske’s core social motives for human interaction, namely belonging, trusting, understanding, controlling and enhancing self.