News Coverage and Public Concern about Immigration in Britain

Lauren McLaren*, Hajo Boomgaarden, Rens Vliegenthart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the causes of fluctuations in public concern about immigration and contends that issues emphasized in media coverage explain these fluctuations. Drawing on agenda-setting research and theories about issue attributes, it is argued that media emphasis on aspects of immigration that are likely to be unobtrusive but with potentially concrete consequences for the public is likely to raise concern about immigration far more than unobtrusive but abstract issues. The analysis, based on public opinion data and newspaper articles on the topic of immigration to the U.K., shows that press emphasis on two unobtrusive but concrete issues within the theme of immigration - the economy and education - appears to increase concern about immigration; emphasis on more abstract issues evokes little reaction from the British public.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-193
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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