with Selin Kepenek, working paper presented at APSA 2021 and ECPR 2021.
How does polarization in home country affect the social interactions between immigrants in the host country? The conventional wisdom in the immigration literature suggests that the networks with co-nationals in the country of destination can potentially provide a “safe haven” for newcomers and facilitate their search for jobs, accommodation, and social connections. However, there is a gap in the literature: the impact of polarization in home country on these everyday interactions between immigrants abroad is understudied.
To address this gap, we conducted two online experiments with immigrants from Turkey. In the first experiment, we presented respondents with different fake Facebook profiles of a hypothetical newcomer and measured to what extent they would be willing to socially engage with her/him, depending on her/his ideology. In the second experiment, we measured respondents’ political tolerance towards their co-nationals in the host country. Lastly, we conducted two similar experiments with international university students living in Canada to assess the impact of varying levels of polarization at home.
Our findings overall suggest that polarization travels abroad and it can shape the social interactions within immigrant communities. First, anti-government immigrants from a country with high level of political polarization are less likely to assist pro-government newcomers from their country. On the other hand, there is no such difference between attitudes towards pro- and anti-government immigrants who come from countries with low level of polarization. Secondly, polarization among anti-government immigrants who support different political parties disappears abroad and on average, there is no statistically significant difference between their attitude towards their co-partisans and other anti-government immigrants supporting other opposition parties.
Facebook profile treatment example