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Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants

Understanding public attitudes towards refugees and migrants within their host communities is becoming an increasingly important task for those working on refugee and migration issues. This includes international and national NGOs, academics, think tanks and civil society. Although there is evidence that refugees and migrants can contribute significantly to society if given the opportunity to do so (Pantuliano, 2016), public attitudes have a significant bearing on their prospects. Whether organisations are trying to raise funds, disseminate work, or advocate on behalf of refugees and migrants, their
success hinges on how refugees and migrants feature within public attitudes.

This Working Paper, produced by ODI and Chatham House, is intended as a primer on the drivers influencing public attitudes towards refugees and migrants, and what they mean for organisations working on refugee and migration issues. There is an extensive literature that speaks to this issue, ranging from national and international opinion polling data to academic articles drawing on economic, sociological and political debates, to communications, advocacy and campaigning pieces. This paper canvasses this large literature base to draw out commonalities and highlight potential entry points.