Problems of conceptualisation and operationalisation of attitudes toward immigrants in cross-national comparative research

  • Dmitry S. Grigoryev National Research University «Higher School of Economics», 20 Myasnitskaya Street, Moscow 101000, Russia


The paper continues the ongoing discussion among experts by considering in detail the problematic inconsistency in the conceptualisation and operationalisation of attitudes toward immigrants in cross-national comparative research. The sources of the identified problems, which are primarily associated with a theoretical impasse, namely the isolation and replication of the tradition of the theory of competitive threat and excessive reliance on literature (especially American) on racial prejudice (but attitudes toward immigrants and attitudes toward the African American population of the United States are far from the same thing). Suggestions are being raised regarding the need for a clear definition of the boundaries between groups (immigrants and host population), applying group-specific approach, overcoming terminological diversity, greater differentiation of related constructs, transition from reflective approach to measurement models to formative one to compile a special comparative index of attitudes toward immigrants taking into account country (regional) specifics, solving the measurement problem in the framework of the survey method when selecting items for the questionnaire (including avoiding double-barreled items). It is also considered options for applied conceptualisation of attitudes toward immigrants within metaphors of distance (social distance) and temperature («feeling thermometer») and related issues of their operationalisation. If necessary, illustrations and examples relevant to Russian reality are given.

Author Biography

Dmitry S. Grigoryev, National Research University «Higher School of Economics», 20 Myasnitskaya Street, Moscow 101000, Russia

PhD (psychology); researcher at the Center for Sociocultural Research


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Keywords: attitudes toward immigrants, cross-national comparative research, group-specific approach, social distance, «feeling thermometer», acculturation, host society, discrimination of immigrants
Supporting Agencies The article was prepared within the framework of the Higher School of Economics University Basic research program.
How to Cite
Grigoryev, D. S. (2020). Problems of conceptualisation and operationalisation of attitudes toward immigrants in cross-national comparative research. Journal of the Belarusian State University. Sociology, 3, 89-100.
From the Working Table of a Sociologist