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Place resentment in ‘the places that don’t matter’: explaining the geographic divide in populist and anti-immigration attitudes

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This study tests a novel explanation for geographic divides in populist and anti-immigration attitudes. This explanation centres around place resentment: the feeling that one’s area is ignored by policy makers and that members of one’s local community are misunderstood and disrespected by inhabitants of other areas. I argue that place resentment mediates the relationship between the type of area one inhabits and political attitudes. With representative survey data and contextual data from The Netherlands, I show that place resentment is an important mediator explaining how geographic divides translate into anti-immigration and populist attitudes. Place resentment is a stronger explanation for geographic variation in political attitudes than alternative explanations I explored. The results suggest that place resentment plays a central role in explaining geographic polarization in Western democracies.

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  3. The explained variance in Model 2c (R2 = .285) is higher than in Model 2b (R2 = .122).

  4. The explained variance in Model 3d (R2 = .414) is higher than in Model 3b (R2 = .325).

  5. The explained variance in Model 3e (R2 = .330) is similar to Model 3b (R2 = .325).


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I would like to thank Eelco Harteveld, Sarah de Lange, Wouter van der Brug and Bram Lancee for their valuable feedback and their support.


This work was supported by the Amsterdam Centre for Inequality Studies (AMCIS), PO Box 15508, 1001 NB Amsterdam, the Netherlands,

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Correspondence to Twan Huijsmans.

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Huijsmans, T. Place resentment in ‘the places that don’t matter’: explaining the geographic divide in populist and anti-immigration attitudes. Acta Polit 58, 285–305 (2023).

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