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National Identity and Attitude toward Foreigners in a Multinational State: A Replication

Jaak Billiet, Bart Maddens and Roeland Beerten
Political Psychology
Vol. 24, No. 2, Special Issue: National Identity in Europe (Jun., 2003), pp. 241-257
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3792350
Page Count: 17
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National Identity and Attitude toward Foreigners in a Multinational State: A Replication
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Abstract

An analysis of the 1995 Belgian General Election Survey indicates that the bipolar national identity variable, which contrasts citizens who identify exclusively with the Belgian nation with those who identify exclusively with the Flemish or Walloon subnation, measures not only the direction but also the intensity of national feelings. Respondents who are located at the middle of the scale tend to have a weak identification with both the nation and the subnation. On the basis of a structural equations modeling approach involving a test of the construct equivalence in the two regions and a control for agreeing-response bias, it is shown that the bipolar national identity variable and attitude toward foreigners are inversely related in Flanders and Wallonia. In Flanders, citizens with a strong subnational identification tend to have a negative attitude toward foreigners; those with a strong Belgian identification are more positive. This relationship became more pronounced after controlling for the respondents' level of education. In Wallonia, a reverse but less pronounced relationship was found. These findings support the hypothesis that the relationship between the variables of national identity and attitude toward foreigners is not intrinsic, but is at least partly determined by the social representation of the nation.

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