Neonationalism in Scandinavia: Immigration, Segregation, and Anti-Immigrant Voting in Denmark and Sweden

Valdez, Sarah. 2011. "Neonationalism in Scandinavia: Immigration, Segregation, and Anti-Immigrant Voting in Denmark and Sweden." PhD Dissertation, Department of Sociology, University of Washington.

Committee: 
Steve Pfaff (Chair), Phillip Howard (GSR), Edgar Kiser, Margaret Levi.

The question underlying this project is: When do anti-immigrant attitudes become politicized? I derive two hypotheses to answer this question. First, levels of ethnic intergroup contact affect voting behavior because it brings immigration to the fore as a politically salient issue. I develop a micro-level model of neonational party support which posits that while attitudes are slow to change, the salience of political issues is relatively responsive to experiences such as contact. Therefore, preference re-ordering, rather than preference change, offers a plausible explanation for neonational party electoral support. Second, I hypothesize that levels of intergroup contact are determined by urban landscapes because the design of cities determines how populations move through them.

I use Denmark and Sweden as most similar cases and utilize a mixed-methods approach and argue that differences in refugee resettlement policies and housing developments lead to different patterns of segregation in the two countries, thereby affecting voting. Immigrants are relatively dispersed in Denmark due to resettlement policies that require refugees to live in municipalities of all sizes. In Sweden, non-western immigrants tend to cluster in the suburbs of the large cities. I test hypothesis two through observational fieldwork and find evidence that Million Programme housing projects in Sweden exacerbate the residential segregation of immigrants. Using multilevel modeling and spatial analysis I find support for hypothesis one. There are both neighborhood-level and municipal-level effects of ethnic heterogeneity on vote. Furthermore, votes for the Sweden Democrats at the electoral district level are highly spatially correlated, consistent with my claim that individuals living near immigrant dense neighborhoods are, on average, more likely to vote for an anti-immigrant party.

Status of Research: 
Completed/published
Research Type: