ECPR General Conference edition:8 location:Glasgow date:3-6 September 2014
Previous research has established a strong correlation between fear of crime and anti-immigrant sentiments. In this paper, we explore the role of television in explaining
individual differences in fear of crime, perceived ethnic diversity and levels of anti-immigrant sentiments. We use the ‘Social Cohesion Indicators in Flanders’ (SCIF) data, a
representative survey in the Flemish region of Belgium, combined with real life indicators of ethnic diversity and crime at the community level. Results of a multilevel Structural Equation Model (SEM) suggest that watching television is positively associated with fearof crime and perceived ethnic diversity, which in turn is associated with anti-immigrant sentiments. Preference for public television is, however, associated with lower anti-immigrant sentiments, perceived ethnic diversity and fear of crime levels. Real crime and ethnic diversity levels are only weakly related to anti-immigrant sentiments. We conclude that especially perceptions are important in influencing anti-immigrant sentiments and that television plays a substantial role in shaping these perceptions.