Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Justine Dandy

Abstract

Research has found that generally Australians hold negative attitudes towards asylum seekers. These negative attitudes appear to be influenced by perceptions of threat and false beliefs. The current study explored the attitudes of Anglo-Australians towards asylum seekers and how attitudes are related to the concept of Australian egalitarianism and fair go. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted for this study. Three main themes were identified through thematic content analysis: characterising asylum seekers, responses to asylum seekers in Australia, and constructing fairness.' Characterising asylum seekers represented the informants' constructs of asylum seekers as being genuine asylum seekers, or boat people and illegal immigrants. The latter two are stereotypes commonly used by the media and political figures which appear to influence most of the informants' constructs of asylum seekers. Responses to asylum seekers in Australia reflected the informants' discussions of intercultural racist attitudes, competition for resources, and perceptions of threat. These appeared to be guided by in-group and out-group relations. Constructing fairness reflected the informants' definitions of fairness and how it is applied to asylums seekers. It appears the allocation of fairness is distinguished by in-group favouritism. This study adds to the prior knowledge of attitudes towards asylum seekers within an Australian context.

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