This study examines the ways in which state policies recognize, accommodate and legitimize immigrant cultures, and analyzes the extent to which state accommodation leads to acceptance and tolerance toward immigrants. The study brings together social psychological and institutionalist perspectives, and argues that state recognition and accommodation of immigrant cultures normalize new practices and traditions by making them a part of the country's cultural landscape. This state-led process blurs group lines, and reduces the likelihood of prejudice against immigrants. In contrast, when a state ignores or actively excludes an immigrant culture, it frames those associated with it as outsiders or lesser-citizens, and makes tolerance toward them less likely. To test that hypothesis, the study focuses on the Muslim immigrants in Western Europe, since their case involves a salient (real or perceived) cultural distance to the host societies. The study employs a mixed-methods research. It first examines the Belgian, British and German cases, and traces the process from state accommodation to tolerance with a special focus on the legitimization of cultural elements by state recognition. Then, it conducts a systematic analysis that covers nineteen countries in Western Europe. Individual-level data for the analysis come from the fourth wave of the European Values Study. On the country-level, the study builds what it calls the Accommodation of Islam (AOI) index to measure the extent to which Western European countries accommodate Islam in a variety of realms. Then, it specifies a multilevel regression model that controls for all major alternative explanations. On the individual level, the findings reveal multiple dimensions of religiosity that have divergent influences on anti-Muslim prejudice. On the country level, they indicate that the individuals in countries that do not accommodate Islam are more likely to be prejudiced against Muslims.
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Thesis advisor: Dobuzinskis, Laurent
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