Monitoring of extreme right wing behaviors, xenophobia and hate for humans in Switzerland: a explorative study
The aim of the study is to develop a monitoring instrument that assesses right-wing extremism, xenophobia and misanthropy in the attitudes of the Swiss population. This instrument should make it possible to regularly measure misanthropic attitudes and determine trends. A national investigation strategy was developed and tested that is compatible with international investigations and adapted to Swiss conditions.
Analytically, a relatively open concept was developed that integrates opposing theories. Contextual variables, value orientations and variables that measure the consequences of opinions were defined.
If we try to give some quantitative figures of misanthropy, xenophobia and rightwing extremism in Switzerland, we first have to report a few descriptive figures. It is clear from these figures that such attitudes are not exceptional in Switzerland, but that they are present in the core society. If antisemitism affects around 20% of the population, xenophobia is yet a majority. If islamophobia relates to around 30% of the population, sexism is still largely diffused in the Swiss population. Rightwing extremism is also not a marginal phenomenon. 6% of the population think that violence can solve problems and the “law and order” philosophy is largely diffused. There is a right-wing extremist potential in this country of about 6-7%, if we combine all the calculations done. The other figures are also relevant: a large part of the population is democratically oriented, even if they accept authority or even ask for more.
These facts are confirmed by the explanations that we have tried to develop. Indeed, fear and insecurity, prejudices and ethnocentrism are elements, which appear as relevant for the understanding of anti-human attitudes. The filter against such attitudes is if we follow the results of our survey education and the daily experience of otherness. In other words, two logics could be at the centre of a strategy against the risk of increasing radical opinions: information and social relations between different people. The informational path is the focus of many campaigns and educational programmes in schools; the efforts to create experiences of differences is easy for people in a favourable position, but need to be facilitated for a large part of the population. In this perspective, programmes of revitalisation of social relations between differences in general could be a way to cope with attitudes based on prejudices and a lack of experiences.
Evaluation of the monitoring instrument
The developed instrument has passed different tests. The questionnaire has been based on large sections on established international and national surveys. It has been submitted to different experts and translated by experts with bilingual competences. The validation process included focus groups, interviews with people representing minorities and discriminated groups and laboratory tests. The realization of the survey has taken place after intensive training of the interviewers and a number of quality control tests. A feedback study with the interviewers has been realized. The results of this feedback study were encouraging. In fact, the general impression is that the developed instrument is highly accepted by the interviewed people and that it was easy to administrate the questions. The survey data has finally been tested and weighted. The survey is representative and the decided numbers of around 3000 people is recommended for future surveys, but can be reduced substantially without losing quality. The overall evaluation of the instrument is in other words positive. Nevertheless, adaptations would be useful, if the instrument were to be used in future. In particular, we recommend reducing the duration from 40 to 30 minutes, eliminating questions going in the same direction and elements regarding the professional situation of the interviewed people.
Misanthropy and right-wing extremism are phenomena in continuous change. Symbols of and discourses on these attitudes often alter on a regular basis, following social and political change. Scope and concerned social areas alter as well. If policies against these attitudes have to have an impact, they must be based on systematic and long-term surveys.
Bases against misanthropy and right-wing extremism shouldn’t only be morals and ethics, but also knowledge achieved by socio-scientific methods. Thus, not only the momentary observation and ad-hoc sensitisation from subjective consternation, but also the permanent observation with objective and quantifiable data would be appropriate. From the permanent observation in political fields, like environmental protection, we can see that an all-over social reporting, a combination of several methods of inquiry and thus the combination of objective and subjective indicators are the best way to approach this problem. With the help of these instruments, the aim should be to formulate concrete and effective preventive and intervention policies and guarantee useful analyses of the causes. This way, reporting gives important information about social development in an easy, understandable form and thus is an important instrument for the political planning (education, being careful with specific fields of politics).
We recommend to introduce a periodical reporting that should guarantee a variety of methods and a combination of different sources of information. Multi-dimensionality should be the principle of the researches, including the culprit as well as the victim. The permanent observation becomes more heterogeneous if three aspects are respected: the discriminating, the discriminated and the form of discrimination. Those should by all means be the constant axes of the observation parameters.
If these instruments are supposed to provide data for effective governmental measures, then surveys about misanthropy, xenophobia and rightwing extremism have to be designed as broad on the level of attitude as well as on the level of behaviour. While formulating the questions, it is very important that the questions are not politically incorrect or distort for instance racism in the public opinion. The instrument should on one side explain the discriminating views and actions in their variety and on the other side provide a basis for counter-measures.
The institutionalisation of such an instrument is useful and has to guarantee an independent analysis. That is why we recommend finding an institutional logic, which guarantees this independence. A good example of independent state subsidized monitoring is the VOX- analysis, which is done by three university institutions in a rotating logic. Such a model could be the basis of the institutionalisation of this instrument of monitoring.
The aim of this report is to present an instrument for monitoring rightwing extremism, xenophobia and misanthropy in the attitudes of the Swiss population that can be implemented in future surveys on attitudes and used to develop trends. We developed and tested a national survey strategy that is compatible with international surveys and adapted to the Swiss context.
Analytically, we have developed a relatively open concept, integrating contrasting points of view. We have worked on contextual variables, variables defining values and variables oriented onto the consequences of opinions.
Methodologically, we have taken three steps. We first developed and tested questions in focus groups, then we ran the questionnaire on a small sample, and finally we submitted the questionnaire to a representative sample and analysed the results.
The main outputs of this report relate to the results of the survey and to the evaluation of the monitoring instrument.
|Start - End date||01.10.2003 - 28.03.2005|