How do we develop ideas about migrants? In the 1950’s, Gordon Allport outlined his contact hypothesis. He believed that under certain conditions, interactions with people who are different than us would help to break down prejudice. Unfortunately, those conditions are rarely met. Recently, scholars have noted that lack of positive personal interactions with newcomers is often a reflection of social segregation. Too often, people of different groups live in segregated communities, coupled with increasing numbers of migrants arriving, scholars note that this leads to increased stereotyping and political polarization.
Media also plays a role. In a piece from The Guardian in September 2o18, Lorenzo Tondo and Sean Smith explain:
Migrants and refugees rarely get a good press. Headlines tend to accentuate the costs not the benefit of good hospitality. Politicians from the UK to US, Germany to Italy, rarely have a good word to say about them.
But refugees are not all helpless dependents, hopelessly reliant on charity. They make economic contributions, grow GDP, start businesses and social enterprises, create jobs. For every one implicated in a crime, thousands more are raising children, volunteering, filling the skills shortage in Europe.
It is perhaps in Italy where this gap between perception and reality has had the greatest political impact. Here we focus on five who defy the lazy political stereotyping of the Italian far right.
(Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd)
They sought to counter those stereotypes with a photo essay highlighting the stories of five migrants to Italy. The story is linked below.