Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1995


Immigration, Minority groups


Throughout history the relationship between immigrants and native inhabitants in various parts of the world has proven to be complex and often difficult. In different places at different times immigrants have been accepted, scorned, despised, welcomed, or misunderstood.

There are two main streams of thought on how majority groups interact with and feel about minority groups. Conflicting theories on this topic have been proposed; a theory based on racial animosity and the contextual theory, which states that majority groups will be more supportive of minority groups with more contact. The theory of increased animosity with increased contact was laid out by V.O. Key in his work Southern Politics (1949). He noted that Southern white voters living in black—belt areas were more likely to participate in elections than whites living in whiter areas.

Several elections and events in the past few years have brought the issues of immigration into the forefront of social discussion. Both Switzerland and California have recently held referendums that directly examined the relations and responsibilities between immigrants and the state. The results of these votes and racially motivated violence in Germany all show marked differences in the feelings toward foreigners in the various cantons, counties, and states. In all three cases higher percentages of foreigners correlated positively with increased support for foreigners and negatively with anti-foreigner sentiment. Consequently, these examples are useful for examining social interaction and questioning the two theories.


Political Science

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Political parties--California--Case studies; Political parties--Switzerland--Case studies; Political parties--Germany--Case studies

Subjects - Names (LCNAF)

California--Emigration and immigration--Public opinion; Switzerland--Emigration and immigration--Public opinion; Germany--Emigration and immigration--Public opinion; California--Race relations; Switzerland--Race relations; Germany--Race relations

Geographic Coverage

California--Politics and government; Switzerland--Politics and government; Germany--Politics and goernment


student projects; term papers




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