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Thick and Thin Public Sentiments and the Politics of Immigration in Europe1

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For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Abstract“Thick moralities” are those that reflect the values or way of life of a community, while “thin” moralities are those that reflect more basic claims to decency that can be recognized across even the most diverse moral communities. I use the 2008 European Values Study to examine attitudes towards immigration and the politics of left and right in the European Union and in the Schengen Area. I show that thick preferences increase opposition to immigration in Europe and that thin preferences increase openness to immigration. I also demonstrate that thick values lead to support for the right and that thin values lead to support for the left in the majority of the countries studied.

Affiliations: 1: University of Texas at Austin 1 University Station A 1800, Austin, TX 78712, USA, Email:


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