Immigration, Ethnic Diversity & Trust
In epsiode 73, our guest is Peter Dinesen, Professor of Political Science at UCL (London). He obtained his PhD in Political Science at Aarhus University (2011). After working at the University of Southern Denmark (2010-2011), he worked at the University of Copenhagen, where he maintains an affiliation. His research focuses on how individuals form beliefs and attitudes about other people, politics, and society at large. His primary topic of interest has been generalized social trust – trust in unknown others – which is often considered “the social glue” that binds people together, enabling them to cooperate with positive downstream consequences for individuals and societies. In his work, he has tried to understand the causes of social trust; specifically the role of immigration and state institutions. Other lines of his academic work explore the sources of anti-immigrant/immigration sentiments and behaviors among the native-born, both in mass public and among elected officials, and examine how political engagement is shaped by sociodemographic factors, personal experiences, and personality traits.
He scrutinized the consequences of terrorism for both democratic citizenship (institutional trust and support for civil liberties) as well as mental health (e.g. diagnoses of mental disorders), and in previous he has demonstrated how local economic signals (unemployment and housing prices) shape voting behavior and its anteceding perceptions.
What is the interview about?
The conversation touches upon the impact of immigration on social trust. Peter explains that there is evidence of a weak negative effect of ethnic diversity or the presence of immigrants on trust levels. However, he cautions against exaggerating the negative consequences, as other factors and institutions play a more significant role in trust levels. He mentions the exceptionally high levels of trust in Denmark despite increasing ethnic diversity and strict immigration policies. When discussing policy implications, Peter suggests that maintaining incorrupt and high-quality institutions is crucial.
He cautions against promoting segregation and instead suggest thoughtful policies related to housing and community design. They emphasize the importance of understanding the consequences of immigration on trust without exaggerating them. In terms of future research, Peter mentions the need to study the impact of online presence and social media on trust. They also highlight the relevance of researching the consequences of identity politics on trust and social cohesion. They encourage young researchers to explore these topics and revisit classical questions with refined theories and better tools.
Publications Peter Dinesen
A full list of publications can be found on the website of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark