The article critically evaluates liberal nationalist perspectives on immigration by drawing on findings from a qualitative research project undertaken in 2014 among White British interviewees in England. From one perspective the study's participants' attitudes seem to support arguments made by David Goodhart and other liberal nationalists regarding immigration, social trust and integration. However, further analysis suggests that these attitudes are to a very significant extent drawn first from partially imagined ideas surrounding immigration and second from potentially unreliable sources. These findings thus provoke the question of whether social trust and notions of a national community are actually being disrupted by immigration, or whether they are being disrupted by prejudiced nationalist and xenophobic perceptions about immigration and immigrants. The article will conclude by arguing for more nuanced research into attitudes towards immigration and in favour of a sceptical approach to nationalist frameworks for interpreting society and politics in Britain today.
- attitudes to immigration;nationalism;liberal nationalism;social trust;qualitative research