What does other research say?

Our policy and research officer Kate James outlines some research that shaped the Communities up Close project design

I write this bound for Berlin for a workshop on migration and smaller municipalities in the UK and Germany. The event has been coordinated by the Global Exchange on Migration and Diversity, University of Oxford, and brings together researchers and practitioners – I’m attending with a lead officer from a local authority in Yorkshire and Humber. The journey has been an opportunity to tackle the pile of reports and articles from my ‘must read when I get time’ pile, and to reflect on the literature relevant to the Communities up Close project.

There have been some insightful contributions to the literature on the public perceptions of migration and integration in recent years, notably from British Future and Hope not Hate.

Hope not Hate’s 2018 report 'Fear, hope and loss' describes a growing divide between people living in deprived areas affected by industrial decline, and an educated and multicultural population living in urban areas with greater opportunities. Anti-immigration sentiments were often closely linked with other concerns such as lack of employment opportunities [linked with industrial decline], a worry about children’s prospects, declining high streets, and a sense of having been abandoned by those in power. Over half of the 100 areas in the country that they identified as having the greatest proportion of respondents hostile to migration were located in Yorkshire and Humber or the North-East, and hostile attitudes are more likely to predominate in towns.

British Future’s ‘National Conversation on Immigration', conducted with Hope not Hate, involved speaking to members of the public in 60 locations across the UK, and identified several factors which shape perceptions of migration. These include local histories of migration, economic context, and geographic location. The researchers found that where participants had experience of social contact with migrants, they were less likely to be swayed by more negative narratives encountered in the media and among peer groups. A key theme was the importance of listening to ‘ordinary people’ in order to address concerns about migration, something that we aimed to do in the Communities up Close project.

Looking at the current literature, I hope that Communities up Close contributes a place-based approach at a much smaller geographical level than most studies to date. Research suggests that perceptions of migration may be very much bound up with local context so this project was in a good position to get to the nub of how everyday local experiences of people, services and place influence their perception of newcomers. 

With thanks to Lucy Mort, IPPR, for allowing me to draw on her draft literature review.

For more detail on literature on public attitudes to migration see IPPR’s report 'Communities up Close: Neighbourhood change and migration in Yorkshire and Humber'


Gaston and Hilhorst [2018] ‘Nostalgia as a cultural and political force in Britain, France and Germany: at home in one’s past.’ Demos. The report looks to narratives of nostalgia to understand people’s views on migration and community.

Hope not Hate Charitable Trust [2018]: Fear, Hope and Loss: Understanding the Drivers of Hope and Hate

Rutter, J. and Carter, R. [2018]: National Conversation on Immigration: Final report. British Future and Hope Not Hate


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Page last updated: 28/08/2020 07:15:45

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