How job uncertainty in South Africa is driving anti-migrant attitudes South Africa has seen a number of xenophobic attacks that have shocked the African continent.
Using public opinion data, the study looked at which explanations for anti-immigrant violence are most popular among the country’s adults.
Public opinion data from the South African Social Attitudes Survey 2017 was used for the study. The repeated cross-sectional survey series is specially designed to be nationally representative of all persons aged 16 years and older in the country. Survey teams visited households in all nine provinces and the sample size was 3,098.
Respondents were asked: “There are many opinions about why people take violent action against foreigners living in South Africa. Please tell me the main reason why you think this happens”. This open-ended question allowed people to answer in their own words, thus encouraging them to give an unbiased answer.
Almost every respondent was able to offer an explanation for why people attack foreigners. About a third (30%) of the general public said that the violence was caused by foreigners stealing jobs from hardworking South Africans. Other economic causes cited were the alleged unfair business practices of foreign-owned small businesses and that immigrants used up resources (such as housing).