PGR Workshop: Understanding Attitudes of Individuals towards Refugees: An Empirical Study in Lebanon and Jordan
The number of refugees has more than doubled since 2012 when it stood at 10.5 million, and most of this increase was between 2012 and 2015, driven mainly by the Syrian conflict. While the number of refugees is rising, there is a significant socio-political debate over how to best respond to increasing cultural diversity and changing migration. Studies of refugee crises have mostly focused on the causes of refugees’ flight or refugees’ impacts on the host countries. Less attention has been given to refugees’ relationship with those they contact in the hosting countries. The interactions between refugees and host populations is an issue of enduring importance, with political, social, and economic ramifications at the national and international levels. Furthermore, most studies which have researched attitudes of individuals towards refugees have either focused on European countries or the USA, and there is a scarcity of studies looking at the interaction between host individuals and refugees in developing countries (Bansak et al., 2016; Hainmueller and Hiscox, 2010; Murray and Marx, 2013). Existing theories of attitude formation during refugee crises encompass a broad range of causal factors such as security threats, manipulation of information, social constructs, religiosity, a primary debate centres on the explanatory power of two sets of variables: economic and social (Bohman and Hjerm, 2013; Mwaruvie and Kirui 2012). There is a considerable gap in our understanding of the causal linkages that connect refugees’ influx into a host community to refugees and host society's interactions. This paper aims to understand any connection (or disconnection) between public perceptions of refugees and public policy established by national governments in Lebanon and Jordan.