Northern Ireland has seen a rise in racially motivated crimes and incidents reported to police in recent years and, although this has been accompanied by intensified media coverage, this phenomenon has been the subject of relatively little research. The purpose of this study is to evaluate empirically three theories that have been proposed to explain prejudice towards ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland; economic self-interest, social contact, and ‘sectarianism as racism’. Using the 2013 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, which contains new questions on contact with ethnic minorities, this study looks at attitudes towards Eastern Europeans, Muslims and a third category of ‘other ethnic groups’. Results from multivariate linear regression provide evidence for all three theories but also show that the strength and significance of predictive variables for prejudice vary across the minority groups. The findings that there are different motivations for prejudice towards different groups can inform policies to tackle racism in Northern Ireland.
Source: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2015. First published online 23 September 2015.