Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 545–566 | Cite as

Understanding Evaluations of Foreigners in Modern South Africa: The Relationship Between Subjective Wellbeing and Xenophobia

Research Paper

Abstract

Recent and recurrent violence against immigrants in South Africa highlight the prevalence of xenophobia in the country. Is there a relationship between attitudes towards immigrant sentiment and life satisfaction at the individual level in that nation? Life satisfaction could be a proxy for anxiety, social alienation or insecurity which may be driving xenophobic sentiment. Using data from the 2013 South African Social Attitudes Survey, this paper examines the relationship between attitudes towards immigrants and life satisfaction (measured using the Personal Wellbeing Index). The study focuses exclusively on the attitudes of the country’s Black African majority. Bivariate and multivariate analysis found that life satisfaction did not have a strong relationship with pro-immigrant sentiments. Objective measures of socio-economic status (such as educational attainment) did not have a significant relationship with attitudes towards immigrants. Although improving subjective wellbeing among Black Africans is a worthwhile policy goal in of itself, the findings of this study suggest that addressing xenophobia among this group will require focus on other areas. Intergroup contact, interracial attitudes and perceptions about the consequences of immigration were found to be stronger predictors of pro-immigrant sentiment than life satisfaction. There was some evidence of `outsider solidarity ‘in the study—isiTsonga speakers and members of the ethnolinguistic Black African minority were more pro-immigrant in sentiment than other groups. The implications of this finding on the study of pro-immigration attitudes are discussed in the conclusion.

Keywords

Life satisfaction Xenophobia South Africa Interracial relations Subjective wellbeing 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Support for this study was provided by the South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) a programme within Democracy Governance and Service Delivery research programme, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). For their support and encouragement, special thanks to Benjamin J. Roberts and Jarè Struwig Co-ordinators of SASAS.

References

  1. Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  2. Berry, J. W. (2006). Mutual attitudes among immigrants and ethnocultural groups in Canada. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 30(6), 719–734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bornman, E. (2010). Emerging patterns of social identification in postapartheid South Africa. Journal of Social Issues, 66(2), 237–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bornman, E. (2011). Patterns of intergroup attitudes in South Africa after 1994. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35(6), 729–748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown, R. (2011). Prejudice: Its social psychology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  6. Ceobanu, A. M., & Escandell, X. (2008). East is West? National feelings and anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe. Social Science Research, 37(4), 1147–1170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coenders, M., & Scheepers, P. (2003). The effect of education on nationalism and ethnic exclusionism: An international comparison. Political Psychology, 24(2), 313–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Crush, J., & Pendleton, W. (2007). Mapping hostilities the geography of xenophobia in Southern Africa. South African Geographical Journal, 89(1), 64–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crush, J., Ramachandran, S., & Pendleton, W. (2013). Soft targets: Xenophobia, public violence and changing attitudes to migrants in South Africa after May 2008. Cape Town: Southern African Migration Project.Google Scholar
  10. Cummins, R. A. (1996). The domains of life satisfaction: An attempt to order chaos. Social Indicators Research, 38(3), 303–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. De Figueiredo, R. J. P., & Elkins, Z. (2003). Are patriots bigots? An inquiry into the vices of in-group pride. American Journal of Political Science, 47(1), 171–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Durrheim, K., & Tredoux, C. (2011). Historical trends in South African race attitudes. South African Journal of Psychology, 41(3), 263–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Facchini, G., Mayda, A. A. M., & Mendola, M. (2013). What drives individual attitudes towards immigration in South Africa? Review of International Economics, 21(2), 326–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fauvelle-Aymar, C., & Segatti, A. W. K. (2012). People, space and politics: An exploration of factors explaining the 2008 anti-foreigner violence in South Africa. In L. B. Landau (Ed.), Exorcising the demons within: Xenophobia, violence and statecraft in contemporary South Africa (pp. 58–88). Johannesburg: United Nations University Press with Wits University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Fetzer, J. S. (2000). Economic self-interest or cultural marginality? Anti-immigration sentiment and nativist political movements in France, Germany and the USA. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 26(1), 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Foster, D. H., & Finchilescu, G. (1986). Contact in a non-contact society. In M. Hewstone & R. Brown (Eds.), Contact and conflict in intergroup encounters (pp. 119–136). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  17. Gibson, J. L., & Claassen, C. (2010). Racial reconciliation in South Africa: Interracial contact and changes over time. Journal of Social Issues, 66(2), 255–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gibson, J., & Gouws, A. (2005). Overcoming intolerance in South Africa: Experiments in democratic persuasion. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gordon, S. L. (2016). Xenophobia across the class divide: South African attitudes towards foreigners 2003–2012. Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 33(4), 494–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gordon, S. L., & Maharaj, B. (2015). Neighbourhood-level social capital and anti-immigrant prejudice in an African context: An individual-level analysis of attitudes towards immigrants in South Africa. Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 53(2), 197–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hayes, B. C., & Dowds, L. (2006). Social contact, cultural marginality or economic self-interest? Attitudes towards immigrants in Northern Ireland. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 32(3), 455–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kahneman, D., & Tversky, A. (1979). Prospect theory: An analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica, 47(2), 263–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Klotz, A. (2013). Migration and national identity in South Africa, 1860–2010. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. MacCrone, I. D. (1947). Reaction to domination in a colour-caste society. Journal of Social Psychology, 26, 69–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Matsinhe, D. M. (2011). Africa’s fear of itself: The ideology of Makwerekwere in South Africa. Third World Quarterly, 32(2), 295–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mattes, R. (2013). Systematic, quantitative political science in South Africa: The road less travelled. Politikon, 40(3), 479–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McLaren, L. L. M. (2003). Anti-immigrant prejudice in Europe: Contact, threat perception, and preferences for the exclusion of migrants. Social Forces, 81(3), 909–936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Minnaar, A. V., Hough, M., & De Kock, A. V. (1996). Who goes there?: Perspectives on clandestine migration and illegal aliens in Southern Africa. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council.Google Scholar
  29. Møller, V. (2013). South African quality of life trends over three decades, 1980–2010. Social Indicators Research, 113(3), 915–940.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Møller, V., & Roberts, B. J. (2015). South African hopes and fears twenty years into democracy: A replication of Hadley Cantril’s pattern of human concerns. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-015-1131-2.Google Scholar
  31. Morris, A. (1998). “Our fellow Africans make our lives hell”: The lives of Congolese and Nigerians living in Johannesburg. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21(6), 1116–1136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Neocosmos, M. (2010). From “foreign natives” to “native foreigners”: Explaining xenophobia in post-apartheid South Africa citizenship and nationalism, identity and politics. Dakar: Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa.Google Scholar
  33. Pettigrew, T. F., & Tropp, L. R. (2005). Allport’s intergroup contact hypothesis: Its history and influence. In J. F. Dovidio, P. S. Glick, & L. A. Rudman (Eds.), On the nature of prejudice: Fifty years after Allport (pp. 262–277). Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Quillian, L. (1995). Prejudice as a response to perceived group threat: Population composition and anti-immigrant and racial prejudice in Europe. American Sociological Review, 60(4), 586–611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Russell, T., Silva, F., & Steele, J. (2014). Modelling the spread of farming in the bantu-speaking regions of Africa: An archaeology-based phylogeography. PLoS ONE, 9(1), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Seekings, J. (2001). The uneven development of quantitative social science in South Africa. Social Dynamics, 27(1), 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sides, J., & Citrin, J. (2007). European opinion about immigration: The role of identities, interests and information. British Journal of Political Science, 37(03), 477–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. South African Institute of Race Relations. (2016). Race relations in South Africa: Reasons for hope. Johannesburg. http://irr.org.za/.
  39. Thompson, L. M. (2001). A history of South Africa. London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Tiliouine, H., Cummins, R. A., & Davern, M. (2006). Measuring wellbeing in developing countries: The case of Algeria. Social Indicators Research, 75(1), 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tshitereke, C. (1999). Xenophobia and relative deprivation. Crossings, 3(2), 4–5.Google Scholar
  42. United Nations Population Division (UNDP). (2013). International Migration 2013. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. http://esa.un.org/unmigration/documents/WallChart2013.pdf.
  43. Ward, C., & Masgoret, A. (2008). Attitudes toward immigrants, immigration, and multiculturalism in New Zealand: A social psychological analysis. International Migration Review, 42(1), 227–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Democracy Governance and Service Delivery Research ProgrammeHuman Sciences Research Council (HSRC)DurbanSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations