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Political Discourse and Public Attitudes toward Syrian Refugees in Turkey

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Sustaining positive attitudes toward refugees is a priority as refugee crises surge worldwide. This study draws on eighty-five in-depth interviews with citizens in four provinces across Turkey. We identified prominent frames from Turkish political discourse and asked individuals to recount their self-narratives of attitude formation about Syrian refugees. We find that most-respondents' narratives included multiple frames, confirming that attitudes are often products of contradictory factors. Furthermore, humanitarianism and shared religion, frames thought to support positive attitudes, did not have such straightforward associations here. Humanitarianism was a positive force early, but had limits as compassion fatigue set in, and respondents described polarizing differences in religious practices rather than shared religion. Our work highlights the importance of examining attitude formation in non-Western settings for understanding views about and supporting societal inclusion of refugees.

Keywords: ATTITUDES; IMMIGRATION; MIDDLE EAST; MIGRANTS; REFUGEES; TURKEY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2022

This article was made available online on August 19, 2021 as a Fast Track article with title: "Political Discourse and Public Attitudes toward Syrian Refugees in Turkey".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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