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A new wonderland of Asian migration: Does symbolic politics trump utilitarian politics?


  • Jung In Jo


Despite the wave of scholarly enthusiasm over the rising number of foreigners and migrants in Korean society, the public’s side of the story has not been clearly articulated. Against this background, this article – guided by ideas of the symbolic politics and the utilitarian politics approaches – taps into survey data to fully investigate the demand side of determinants contributing to the popular disapproval of the rise of immigrants. Unlike other studies, this article finds that individual immigration preferences reflect multifaceted utilitarian calculus and symbolic predispositions. While affective orientations toward multiculturalism and assimilation ideology influence public attitudes toward immigration policy, scholars have downplayed utilitarian self-interest induced immigration attitudes. Ordered Logit analysis of 2003 Korean National Identity Survey data demonstrates a link between an individual’s utilitarian interests and immigration preference. This analysis suggests that concerns over job security drive negative attitudes regarding the increase of immigrant inflows. Low-skilled respondents are more likely to prefer restricting the rise of migrants. Second, perceived cultural threats are related to negative views toward newcomers. Those supporting multiculturalism are inclined to support increasing immigration. These findings suggest that the factors driving immigration preferences are multifaceted.

Suggested Citation

  • Jung In Jo, 2012. "A new wonderland of Asian migration: Does symbolic politics trump utilitarian politics?," International Area Studies Review, Center for International Area Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 43-58, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:intare:v:15:y:2012:i:1:p:43-58
    DOI: 10.1177/2233865912437118

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anna Maria Mayda, 2006. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 510-530, August.
    2. Sanoussi Bilal & Jean-Marie Grether & Jaime de Melo, 2015. "Attitudes Towards Immigration: A Trade Theoretic Approach," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Developing Countries in the World Economy, chapter 18, pages 439-453, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Steven A. Weldon, 2006. "The Institutional Context of Tolerance for Ethnic Minorities: A Comparative, Multilevel Analysis of Western Europe," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 50(2), pages 331-349, April.
    4. Hainmueller, Jens & Hiscox, Michael J., 2010. "Attitudes toward Highly Skilled and Low-skilled Immigration: Evidence from a Survey Experiment—Erratum," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 104(3), pages 624-624, August.
    5. Kenneth F. Scheve & Matthew J. Slaughter, 2001. "Labor Market Competition And Individual Preferences Over Immigration Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 133-145, February.
    6. O'Rourke, Kevin H. & Sinnott, Richard, 2006. "The determinants of individual attitudes towards immigration," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 838-861, December.
    7. Hainmueller, Jens & Hiscox, Michael J., 2010. "Attitudes toward Highly Skilled and Low-skilled Immigration: Evidence from a Survey Experiment," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 104(1), pages 61-84, February.
    8. Kinder, Donald R. & Kiewiet, D. Roderick, 1981. "Sociotropic Politics: The American Case," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 129-161, April.
    9. Hainmueller, Jens & Hiscox, Michael J., 2007. "Educated Preferences: Explaining Attitudes Toward Immigration in Europe," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(2), pages 399-442, April.
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