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Can community involvement policies mitigate NIMBYism and local opposition to asylum seeker centres?

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Local governments have to take authoritative decisions about the placement of controversial but necessary facilities such as Asylum Seeker Centres (ASCs). Opposition from local residents against such facilities is often considered to be an expression of NIMBYism. This article explores whether a policy of community involvement addressing the underlying reasons for local opposition can mitigate such opposition towards an ASC. It uses a mixed methods approach combining survey data and semi-structured interviews among neighbourhood residents about an ASC in Utrecht. Local opposition is associated with experiences of economic competition and cultural threat. The policy strategy did not moderate these effects. Those who became involved were a selective group of locals who were largely already accepting of the centre and its inhabitants and involvement was often incidental. However, contact between asylum seekers and neighbours developing within and beyond the ASC mediated the effect of cultural threat ‐ confirming Allport’s contact hypothesis.
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Keywords: NIMBYism; Utrecht; asylum seeker centre; community involvement; contact hypothesis; facility siting; local opposition; mixed methods

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Utrecht University, The Netherlands 2: University College London, UK

Publication date: October 2021

This article was made available online on October 18, 2021 as a Fast Track article with title: "Can community involvement policies mitigate NIMBYism and local opposition to asylum seeker centres?".

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