Despite the centrality of national identity in the exclusionary discourse of the European radical right, scholars have not investigated how popular definitions of nationhood are connected to dispositions toward Muslims. Moreover, survey-based studies tend to conflate anti-Muslim attitudes with general anti-immigrant sentiments. Bonikowski demonstrates that varieties of national self-understanding are predictive of anti-Muslim attitudes, above and beyond dispositions toward immigrants. Moreover, conceptions of nationhood are heterogeneous within countries and their relationship with anti-Muslim attitudes is contextually variable. Consistent with expectations, anti-Muslim attitudes are associated with “thicker” conceptions of nationhood in most countries. In Northwestern Europe, however, it is civic nationalism that is linked to greater antipathy toward Muslims. He suggests that in this region, elective criteria of belonging have become fused with exclusionary notions of national culture that portray Muslims as incompatible with European liberal values, effectively legitimating anti-Muslim sentiments in mainstream political culture.
Bart Bonikowski is Associate Professor of Sociology at Harvard University and Resident Faculty at the Minda the Gunzburg Center for European Studies. Relying on surveys, large-scale digital data, and experimental methods, his research applies insights from cultural sociology to the study of politics in Europe and the United States, with a particular focus on populist claims-making in political discourse and the political implications of nationalist beliefs.