Social Relations, the Financial Crisis and Human Development

  • Stefano Passini


Early in 2014, via a referendum proposed by a national conservative and right-wing political party and mobilized by far-right movements, Switzerland approved a motion to impose a quota on immigration with a view to curtailing the phenomenon. The motion runs counter to the principle of the free movement of workers between the EU and Switzerland. While a statement issued by the European Commission declared that it was “disappointed”about this result in favour of immigration curbs, the Swiss outcome was acclaimed by the growing extremist wings of European politics. These Eurosceptic and anti-immigration parties and movements have frequently linked the increasing immigration in the EU with the recent economic and financial crises of the host countries. The recent expansion of the EU has indeed entailed an exponential increment in immigration towards Western European countries, in particular from the new Eastern European member states. This expansion of multiculturalism has coincided with a major crisis affecting the European economic system that has especially affected the Mediterranean countries (namely, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal). The coincidental overlapping of these two events has led people to mistakenly attribute the crisis to immigration. Hericourt and Spielvogel (2012, p. 2) have noted that “the crisis threatens to revive opposition to immigration and foster anti-immigrant feelings”. The consequence is a strengthening of the polarization of “us”vs.


Financial Crisis Relative Deprivation Social Dominance Orientation Political Trust Intergroup Relation 
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