CSI Newsletter June 2018




8th June 2018


Welcome to the Centre for Social Investigation eNewsletter which you can also download as pdf.

New Research

Out today! We have been helping The Migration Observatory update their briefing on UK Public Opinion toward Immigration.

One fascinating finding is that attitudes towards immigration in the UK seem to be softening in the post-Brexit environment. There has been softening on both sides: the leavers and the remainers. Immigration was often named as Britain’s ‘most important issue’ between 2001 and mid-2016, but since the EU Referendum people have been more likely to name Europe/the EU and the NHS as their primary concerns.


In March, we published new research on the impact of the National Citizen Service scheme (NCS) on 16-17 year-olds from a range of backgrounds and geographic groups. The report, by James Laurence, is an important step towards understanding and improving social integration among young people, especially among those that face the greatest barriers to social integration. The report has also been published as a concise briefing note.

The research suggests that participating on NCS leads to significant improvements in young people’s social integration – warmer attitudes, more positive inter-ethnic contact, and more positive perceptions of community cohesion – evident at least 3-5 months after participating.

NCS has particularly positive impacts on young people who join the scheme with lower social integration to begin with.

Overall, NCS helps close the ‘integration gap’ between more and less socially integrated young people and communities.


We have recently published collaborative work with Asma Mustafa in the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies. (Download the paper here).

Studies of immigration attitudes have typically taken the majority perspective, focussing on views of majority rather than minority groups. This research, however, explored attitudes of Muslims in eight European countries. We compared the views of Muslims to Christian and secular majority groups.

We found that European Muslim attitudes are less a consequence of resource competition and are more in line with ‘social identity theory’. We also suggested that personal migration histories create empathy with others across national borders.


A new article entitled “Selectivity of Migration and the Educational Disadvantages of Second-Generation Immigrants in Ten Host Societies” has been published in the European Journal of Population.

The article compares how the children of immigrants (the second generation) fare within the educational systems of ten highly-developed western democracies.  A number of these countries such as the Netherlands and Germany have selective systems of education where students are selected around the age of eleven for separate educational tracks.  In others such as Canada and the USA, there are comprehensive systems of education where there is little selection or tracking until older ages.  The research shows that ethnic disadvantage is substantially reduced in the comprehensive educational systems, and indeed that some minority groups outperform their peers from the majority group in these systems.


We have also published new several pieces relating to CSI’s Brexit project.

The first, published in Political Quarterly, is entitled “Red Lines and Compromises: Mapping Underlying Complexities of Brexit Preferences”.

Almost from the word go, the political discourse on the nature of the future relationship between the UK and the EU has been characterized by two opposing ideals of soft Brexit and hard Brexit.

The paper presents evidence of attitudinal types that map neatly onto the archetypal views of hard and soft Brexit. The hard Brexit view is defined by issues that eurosceptics prioritise, most prominently sovereignty. By contrast, europhiles prioritise cooperation with Europe in terms of scientific collaboration and market access.

However, attitudinal types are not either/or in the minds of the British public, and many prioritise all or none of the issues. Further, the two opposing positions account together account for 37% of the public’s view.


Our second new Brexit publication explores the reasons that Leave and Remain voters give for their vote choice, as well as examining how well each side understands the reasons of the other. Download the briefing note here.

The two main reasons people gave for voting Leave were ‘immigration’ and ‘sovereignty’, whereas the main reason people voted Remain was ‘the economy’.

Among four possible reasons for voting Leave, ‘to teach British politicians a lesson’ is ranked last by an overwhelming majority of Leave voters, contrary to the claim that Brexit was a ‘protest vote’.

Among four possible reasons for voting Remain, ‘a strong attachment to Europe’ is ranked last by a sizable majority of Remain voters, consistent with the claim that Britons have a relatively weak sense of European identity.

When asked to rank the reasons why their counterparts voted the way they did, Leave voters characterise Remain voters more accurately than Remain voters characterise Leave voters. In particular, Remain voters underestimate the importance that Leave voters attach to the EU having no role in UK law-making.


Third, we contributed to UK in a Changing Europe’s report on local and devolved government, with a piece on “Where should decisions be made?” which is also available as a blog post.



Valentina Di Stasio and Marcel Coenders (Utrecht University) attended the meeting “Labour migration: enabling factors and key determinants” organized in Brussels by the EU Commission, DG Research & Innovation. Findings from the GEMM project were presented, with a particular focus on cross-national differences in the discrimination patterns observed in the field experiment.

Valentina Di Stasio presented the paper “Muslim by default or religious discrimination? Results from a cross-national field experiment” at the workshop Attitudes to Foreigners and Discrimination in the Labour Market at the University of Geneva.



Lindsay Richards gave a talk at the Social Mobility Awards 2018 launch event. The event was accompanied by the release of a set of case studies of the 2017 winners, as well as detailing why the awards matter for bringing about social change.

Work by Anthony Heath and Lindsay Richards on attitudes to immigration in Europe was presented at a policy event in Brussels organised by the European Social Survey.

Anthony Heath and Wouter Zwysen contributed to a new OECD report, launched in Brussels in May. “Chapter 6.  The European Union: Entrenched disadvantage?  Intergenerational mobility of young natives with a migration background.”  in OECD (2018)  Catching up?  Country Studies on Intergenerational Mobility and Children of Immigrants



With best wishes,

Centre for Social Investigation



The Centre for Social Investigation (CSI) is based at Nuffield College, Oxford University. The Centre aims to address contemporary social issues of public interest, carrying out authoritative research on central social issues which draws upon interdisciplinary expertise in economics, politics and sociology, and related disciplines. The Centre’s research is independent and non-partisan; as such, it has no political affiliation or leaning.