A Qualitative Analysis Of The Attitudes To The Migration Crisis
The current migration crisis is a significant Europe-wide issue. The analysis of the attitudes towards this issue is a new relevant research topic in the Czech Republic. The aim of this study is to analyse the attitudes of Czech citizens towards the current migration crisis. We are interested in what attitudes are dominant because the attitudes have substantial explanatory strength in explaining the causes of behaviour of individuals and entire social groups. The data are obtained by means of a questionnaire. Within data processing both qualitative and quantitative methodologies are used, where qualitative data analysis is perceived as dominant and quantitative analysis has a rather supplementary function. The primary method is qualitative analysis of open statements which is based on the procedures analogical to open axial coding in grounded theory. The analysis of open statements of 169 respondents points out the following categories: expression of concerns; statement on accepting / non-accepting migrants; statement on current political situation; subjective experience with contact with migrants; unclassified. Most of the statements through all categories are filled with future concerns. Only 9 respondents (5%) do not express any concerns. Although it is a well-known fact that the immigration can have apositive impact on various areas in accepting countries, it is the negative aspects that mostly surface. Likewise within our research sample, where the negative attitudes prevail.
Keywords: Migration crisismigrantsattitudesgrounded theory
The issue of attitudes is dealt with by a number of scientific disciplines. The main cause of great
interest is the explanatory power of this concept in clarifying the causes of behaviour of individuals and
social groups. Understanding attitudes allows the formulation of valid assumptions about future
behaviour of individuals, which is desirable in the context of the current migration crisis. The theoretical
part of the paper focuses on theoretical background of the concept of attitudes and their link to the issue
of migration, specifically the current migration crisis. The practical part presents the results of an analysis
of open-ended responses concerning the migration crisis.
1.1.Attitudes and their formation
The definition of attitudes in scientific literature is marked by a degree of inconsistency. The
original definitions were broad and included cognitive, affective, motivational and behavioural
components (Schwarz, Bohner, 2001). Currently, there are three models of attitudes: three-component
model (cognitive, affective, behavioural), two-component model (cognitive, affective) and one-
component model, which claims that attitudes are purely emotional (Fischben, Ajzen, 1974). Most current
theories define attitudes as a general evaluation of a specific object. The evaluation tendencies cannot be
directly observed although they are involved in processes between certain stimuli (objects of attitudes)
and reactions. It is assumed that they are based on experience and manifested in various ways. More
distinct attitudes are formed in case of objects or events that occur more frequently or those that are more
significant for some reason (Krech, Crutchfield, Ballachey, 1968).
One of the main reasons for investigating attitudes is the belief that
assumption was published by LaPiere already in 1934 (LaPiere, 1934). Using the
Wicker (1969) concluded that a man does not always behave in the context of one’s own attitude (if I do
not see a person, I have no personal contact, it is easy to refuse). The behavioural component is the least
reliable in terms of the attitude’s persistence. However, the relationship between attitudes and behaviour
is one of many topics of scientific research. Many studies focus on
studies are based on the proposition that attitudes are formed in the process of socialization and are linked
to satisfying our needs(Krech, Crutchfield, Ballachey, 1968), others emphasized the effect of information
on the process of formation, which is of a cognitive quality, but is rarely neutral (Výrost, Slaměník,
2008). There are studies that focus on public attitudes towards migrants (e.g. Havlík, 2007; Leontiyeva,
Vávra, 2009; Vecchione et al., 2012; Murray, Marx, 2013). In the broadest sense the study of attitudes is
significant because attitudes are important for our social life. If we know each other’s attitudes, the world
becomes more predictable; attitudes can be used to shape our thinking and behaviour (Bohner, Dickel,
1.2.Attitudes towards migrants
In the Czech Republic (referred to as CR) the numbers of immigrants until early 1990s were
relatively low. After 1989 the situation changed dramatically, both in terms of numbers and structure of
foreigners living in the CR. The CR became an increasingly popular destination not only for temporary,
but also permanent immigration (Baršová, Barša 2005); the benefits of immigration were perceived rather
negatively by most citizens (Prudký, 2004). In the CR, foreigners are publicly considered a problem on a
nationwide level (58% of respondents), but much less so in the place of the respondents’ residence (26%
of respondents). This might suggest general prejudices against foreigners (Rákoczyová, Trbola et al.
2009). Similar results were formulated by Sniderman, Hagendoorn (2009) and Sniderman, Hagendoorn,
Prior (2004), who refer to extensive studies (e.g. European Social Survey, ESS) examining the attitudes of
EU citizens to immigration in general.
These studies also focused on potential threats related to immigration. According to the results,
these threats were essentially divided into two categories:
(group, country, unity). Potential threats to the nation have a much more significant effect on the attitude
to immigration compared with threats to individuals. Czech citizens perceive the current migration crisis a
potential threat to the nation. As suggested by the latest CVVM (Public opinion research center) survey
in 2016, this current situation is perceived by Czech citizens as a significant security threat not only for
the CR and Europe, but also in a global context. It is therefore not surprising that 79% of citizens are
against accepting refugees (CCVM, 2009).In the event of acceptance of migrants, public expectations are
that foreigners will as much as possible adapt to Czech cultural habits, that they will socially integrate,
which usually means engagement of all parties involved in social life, including conferment of rights,
acquisition of language skills, participation in the education system and labour market, and emotional
identification with the host country (e.g. Esser, 2001). However, social inclusion of immigrants is not a
uniform process. It is influenced not only by the immigrants’ and their families’ motivation and abilities,
but also by the conditions that the host society sets (Rákoczyová, Trbola et al., 2009). There are various
theories trying to explain the determinants of the attitudes to immigration. For the purposes of
simplification, these theories will be divided into two groups –
theories focus on a set of variables, such as the number of immigrants in the country, unemployment rate,
unemployment growth, GDP, amount of foreign investment (collective economic theories), etc. (Paas,
Halapuu, 2012).The individual theories concerning attitudes to migrants work with variables such as
demographic factors, income, personality variables, perceived cultural differences, political affiliation,
interpersonal trust and sense of security. In addition to the variables above, the development of the
attitudes to migrants also depends on their political, cultural or religious background (variables on the part
of migrants). For this reason, the attitudes to migrants coming from different countries may vary.
According to Rokeach et al. (1960), if respondents assume that the beliefs and values of migrants
(incoming groups) differ from their own, it is more likely that they will approach these groups with a
higher degree of prejudice.
The current migration crisis is an important Europe-wide issue. Investigating citizens’ attitudes to
this issue is a new research focus in the CR. Regarding the fact that attitudes have considerable
explanatory power in clarifying the causes of individual’s or group’s behaviour, the objective of the
present study was their analysis in the context of the CR.
a)What categories of responses will appear in the analysis of open-ended responses?
b)What are the attitudes of Czech citizens to the migration crisis in terms of the content of open-
Purpose of the Study
Public attitudes to migration and migrants represent one of the major factors that can affect not
only social integration of migrants in the host society, but also the overall public life. The aim of the
present research was to investigate the attitudes of Czech citizens to the migration crisis by means of an
analysis of open-ended questions.1 The analysis focused on data excerpts and core statements that we
believe contain regularities and statement patterns.
Research data were obtained by means of an online questionnaire2, which was divided into three
parts; the first part focused on individual attitudes to the current migration crisis, the second part focused
on personality structure, the third part focused on selected personality characteristics.
questionnaire offered space for open-ended written statements, where each respondent had an opportunity
to comment on the issue of migration. The paper focuses on processing the data based on
The research design was the
concurrently in terms of quality and quantity; however, during their analysis one set of data is given
priority. In our case, the dominant data were the qualitative data (obtained by means of a deep analysis of
written statements), while the quantitative data (numbers) were of a complementary nature (Cresswell,
2003). The qualitative analysis of the data was based on open axial coding in the embedded theory
(Strauss, Corbin, 1999).
to add written comments in the final part of the questionnaire. This subgroup included 97 women (47%)
and 107 men (53%). The youngest respondent was 18 and the oldest 89 years of age. The average age of
the entire sample was 42.78 years.
The analysis of open-ended statements suggested two basic areas that the respondents commented
respondents, who had commented on the migration crisis.
During the coding procedure it was revealed that the responses concerning migrants and migration
crisis related to five basic categories3 (see Graph
Category Concerns: concerns about Islam; worries about homeland and the EU; fears of
radicalization of the society; worries about loved ones.
Category Acceptance/non-acceptance of migrants: acceptance yes; acceptance yes but; acceptance
Category Political situation (analysis of political situation, opinions about political situation and
Category Personal experiences with migrants (respondents who report their own personal contact
Category Unclassified statements (statements not included in any of the categories above due to
6.2.Analysis of open-ended statements by categories
The following part presents the analyses of open-ended responses by categories.
migration crisis.In this category, the following categories were observed (see Graph
The respondents express their concerns about Islam; worries about homeland and the EU; fears of
increased radicalization of the society; worries about loved ones. A female respondent (38 years)
expressed her concerns in a few words: “God help us.” A total of 48 (55%)5 respondents expressed their
concerns about Islam.The respondents expressed concerns about religious fanaticism and religious
intolerance, in this context also about cultural intolerance and cultural differences of migrants. “Islam as
practised by radicals is the greatest of threats not only for Europe but for the whole world” (male, 68
years). Fears of Islamic ideology is also expressed by a male respondent (47 years): “…I don’t mind
refugees but I’m very afraid of Islam. There might be a million refugees, but not Muslims.” An overall
feeling of helplessness and fear (without a specific explanation) was mentioned by 2 respondents: “… I
feel the helplessness and hopelessness in this situation” (female, 32 years). The respondents believe it is
impossible to link migrants’ cultural norms with ours, they are convinced that migrants will not adapt to
our culture. “These people have no interest in the culture and laws of the country they are migrating
to...” (male, 26 years). All responses contained worries about losing something that has been built for
generations and taken from the ancestors. The respondents are convinced that acculturation of migrants in Europe and in our country is impossible and that Islam6 is incompatible with European life.
In the category Concerns, 15 respondents (17.4%) indicatedworries about the future of the CR
and EU.“Protection of the CR is strongly underestimated, still I believe that WE, the Czechs – patriots
4 % of the total of 169 respondents (who commented on migrants) 5 For other percentages see the category ‘Concerns’.
6 We are aware of the fact that the term ‘Islam’ is very broad and can be viewed from many different perspectives. These perspectives include cultural, political or religious Islam, or its offshoots. Regarding the fact that most of the respondents did not specify their statements about Islam, the present paper includes the term ‘Islam’ without any detailed specification.
male respondent (38 years):
years) asked himself a question:
statements included patriotism, and also determination to protect the country if necessary. An apt opinion
was given by a male respondent (46 years):
In the category Concerns, 14 respondents (16%) expressed their
only in the EU but also specifically in the Czech Republic:
possible hostility and hatred among Czech citizens, and hatred for everything foreign and unknown,
which is currently represented by migrants:
(female, 29 years).All respondents in this subcategory expressed their concerns about increased
aggression and violence in the society, and growing xenophobia.
years) gave the following opinion:
about specific people, family and future generations.
The second category was
empathetic attitude to offering a helping hand was expressed by a female respondent (26 years):
These respondents expressed their indignation at the negative attitudes of some Czech citizens. Their
statements suggest their conviction that each of us should help people in need, in this case migrants.
In terms of the dilemma of acceptance or non-acceptance of refugees, 39 respondents (59%)
provided that they will be able to integrate into society and to adapt at least to some extent to our culture.
These respondents also believe that refugees should be helped in their own country. A female respondent
(50 years) thought all refugees should be helped:
respondent (26 years):
apparent in all responses in this subcategory, was aptly expressed by a female respondent (51 years)
8 % in the subcategories derived from the numbers of respondents in category ‘Acceptance/non-acceptance of migrants’
common. They are willing to help, either in the Czech Republic, Europe or in the countries of migrants,
but only those people who are affected by the hardship of war and who lost their home. An important
precondition is that migrants integrate into our society.
These responses were brief (one to three sentences), resolute and clear. As if the respondents did not have
an urge to explain or detail their attitude. The following opinion was given by a male respondent (40
was given by a female respondent (42 years):
given by a young male respondent (21 years):
opinions suggest uncompromising attitudes and implacability concerning the current migration crisis.
6.2.3. Category ‘Opinions about political situation’
Some respondents commented on the present political situation in our country and in the world,
some also commented on specific politicians. In this category (22 respondents, 13%9) the statements were
negative and included frequent criticism of the fact that our current politicians failed to protect Europe.
following question was asked by a male respondent (35 years):
assessment of other countries’ influence on the current situation.10 The following opinion was given by a
male respondent (60 years):
criticized the Government:
(male, 70 years). Some respondents referred to specific politicians:
these statements were critical, emotional and with a sign of indignation.
6.2.4. Category ‘Personal experiences with migrants’
In this category the respondents (10; 5%)11 commented on their personal experiences with migrant
from the Middle East. These were subjective experiences with predominant negative connotations.
studied abroad for a few years and unfortunately my personal experiences with refugees from the Middle
East and some African countries, that is Islam believers, are generally very bad... I would like to say
different things but this is based on my own experiences” (male, 24 years).The following statement was
given by a 50-year-old female respondent: “My critical attitude to Islamic migration is based not only on
theoretical knowledge but also personal experiences with a broad range of different people from the
Middle East.” A female respondent, who had lived with a man of Muslim religion, expressed similar
concerns: “... and I can positively confirm that they are radicalizing. Especially as their children grow,
they get tougher with educating according to Koran... (female, 41 years). A male respondent (43 years),
who had been an immigrant himself, expressed concerns about the current situation: “If this crisis is not
managed in a competent and smart way, it will have a big effect on the way of our lives... I come from a
country that had suffered from Islamic barbarism for centuries. These people will never assimilate...”
Based on their personal experiences, the respondents are convinced that the integration of migrants into
our culture is not possible.
6.2.5.Category ‘Unclassified statements’
Some respondents (4;2.5%)12 added one sentence in the final part of the questionnaire, which can
be assessed in various ways. A female respondent (35 years) gave the following opinion about the
negative role of the media informing about the migration crisis frequently and with intensity, which has
an effect on the attitudes of the citizens. Another female respondent (50 years) pointed out the necessity
to balance emotions and wisdom in approaching migrants:
The following statement was given by a male respondent (35 years):
respondent (61 years) suggested that things may by different than we expected them to be:
For this reason, they were not included in any of the previous categories.
Migration has affected the history of mankind from the very beginning. Migration is not a new
phenomenon, but the current migration wave that Europe faces raises a high degree of solidarity among
people but also great worries and concerns. It seems that those respondents who spent a considerable
amount of time completing the questionnaire and added some extra comments consider the migration
crisis an important issue and that their opinions are more distinct.
A total of 87 (51%) respondents expressed their
of these concerns relate to
culture of the society on human personality, which is an issue that has attracted researchers since 1930s
(Výrost, Slaměník, 1998). Research studies confirm that each personality is imbued with the culture. This
12 % of the total of 169 respondents (who commented on migrants)
results in different behaviours of the members of different cultures. A typical personality of a society is
respondents’ attitudes to accepting migrants. The importance of subjective perception of cultural
differences is also highlighted by Rokeach et al. (1960). If citizens assume that the beliefs and values of
migrants (incoming groups) differ from their own, it is more likely that they will approach these groups
with a higher degree of prejudice. Also in the case of our respondents the perception of disparate values
probably supports antagonism towards migrants and strengthens concerns. Although the CR is still of
secondary interest of migrants flowing to Western Europe, the respondents expressed their
indicated fears of increasing aggression and violence. An interesting fact is that these concerns are related
to several topics: fears of increased aggression on the part of migrants towards the original citizens, fears
of increased aggression on the part of the original citizens towards migrants, and fears of increased
aggression among the original citizens because of different opinions concerning the issue.
In the category
commented on the issue13. 39 (59%) of them selected the option
believe that those who integrate in the society should be helped. They think that we should accept those
migrants who are affected by the hardship of war, especially women and children. A
A strong emotional subtext is obvious in the statements of 22 (13%)14 of the respondents who had
the urge to comment on the
negative and criticize the political representation and the fact that our current politicians failed to protect
Europe. The longest statement by a male respondent (60 years) contained 817 words, by means of which
he gave an emotional opinion (with a large number of grammatical errors) about the current political
situation in our country and in the world. His statement ended with the following:
and search for quick and easy solutions. Similar opinions are seen in various discussion fora on the
Internet, but also in the context of usual interpersonal communication.
Only 10 (5%)15 respondents were included in the category
personal contact with migrants, their experiences are negative and they have concerns about the migration
crisis and its possible consequences for their life.
Although it is known that immigration might have a positive effect on economic performance and
growth in the accepting countries, most attention is attracted by negative aspects. Accordingly, a majority
of the respondents in the present study showed negative attitudes to migrants and the migration crisis.
These negative attitudes were presented in various ways across all categories. Only 9 respondents (5%)
did not report any negative aspects. Similarly, other research studies confirm the dominance of negative
attitudes to migration and concerns (Card, Dustmann, Preston 2005; Hainmueller, Hopkins 2014).
The analysis of the statements suggests that the issue is perceived with strong emotions, most of
which are negative. These emotions apparently play a significant role in the formation of the attitudes,
which supports the theory of the single-component attitude model, according to which attitudes are purely
emotional (Fischben, Ajzen, 1975). Regarding the fact that those objects or events that we encounter
more frequently or that are more important to us for some reason shape our attitudes more strongly
(Krech, Crutchfield, Ballachey, 1968). Attitudes to the migration crisis, which are presented by the media
on a daily basis, are shaped very strongly. The information that is received is not emotionally neutral and
affects the formation of individual attitudes (Výrost, 2008). It is apparent that the process of assessing a
situation (object of the attitude, in our case the migration crisis) according to certain assessment criteria of
the respondents subsequently conditions their emotional response (Scherer, 2006). The results of the
study imply that the issue of the migration crisis is significant for the respondents and that the information
received with respect to the issue is rarely emotionally neutral.
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