Effects of the Refugee Crisis on Perceptions of Asylum Seekers in Recipient Populations
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonJournal of Refugee Studies. 2019, 32 (s1), i219-i237. https://doi.org/10.1093/jrs/fey070
This article examines the effects of the refugee crisis on perceptions of asylum seekers. Previous research has demonstrated that asylum seekers are perceived in terms of deservingness—either as deserving refugees in need of help or as undeserving and unwelcome exploiters. The article uses unique panel data from a representative sample drawn directly from the Norwegian population registry. Through Structural Topic Modelling (STM) of open-ended survey responses fielded before and after the refugee crisis, this article analyses, first, how ordinary citizens perceive asylum seekers and, second, the article documents that these perceptions of asylum seekers changed. They did, however, not change from perceiving asylum seekers as deserving to perceiving them as undeserving. The change was more subtle. Responses that characterize asylum seekers as deserving prior to the crisis tended to reflect a sense of responsibility to help—of involvement. Responses after the crisis were more distanced, even as they characterized the asylum seekers as deserving. All in all, these findings improve our knowledge about how the refugee crisis affected public opinion in recipient populations.