Politicians Constructing Reality: The Issue of Economic Performance and Immigration

Ryan, Rachel (2014). Politicians Constructing Reality: The Issue of Economic Performance and Immigration Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Ryan, Rachel
Thesis Title Politicians Constructing Reality: The Issue of Economic Performance and Immigration
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2014-10-08
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Jolanda Jetten
Total pages 66
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Our understanding of the world is largely shaped by the words of prominent figures. Leaders persuade our world-view, in order to achieve support. Research on identity entrepreneurs suggests that leaders construct reality with narratives, based on a strategic reading of the context. It has been consistently found that in times of economic downturn, Populist-Right Wing Party (PRWP) leaders construct realistic threat narratives to receive anti-immigration support. An overlooked phenomenon is that PRWPs receive increased support in times of economic prosperity. The leaders in this context are evidently influential, but what do they say? As realistic threat narratives are not relevant in prosperous times, perhaps leaders are constructing different narratives, pertaining to symbolic threat. In order to understand more about the relationship between economic state and opposition to immigration, Study 1 examined data from a national Australian survey. Analysis confirmed existing knowledge on threat narratives and economic struggle. It also revealed that in times of economic prosperity, people do not express any real opposition to immigration. How would leaders then strategically position themselves and work with the economic reality they find themselves in? To examine this, Study 2 created an economic reality, and engaged participants in a novel thought experiment concerning opposition to immigration. In line with predictions, it was found that in times of economic prosperity, people will generate more symbolic threat narratives to justify why immigrants are a problem, compared to those experiencing economic decline. Also in line with predictions, it was found that in times of economic decline, people generate more realistic threat narratives, compared to in times of economic growth. The theoretical contributions of this research and directions for future research are discussed.
Keyword Politicians
Immigration
Economic Performance

 
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Created: Wed, 13 May 2015, 15:22:07 EST by Louise Grainger on behalf of School of Psychology