The fourth EPRC webinar of the 2021 was held March 3rd (12:00 – 13:00 UK) over Zoom. Dr. Alexandra Bulat, Research Associate at the University of Strathclyde (UK) presented her PhD thesis on the topic “How does local level contact shape attitudes towards EU migrants? A comparison of British, Romanian and Polish residents’ views in two English local”.

Bulat’s thesis illustrates nuanced attitudes from both British and migrant participants within a comparative approach, showing how skill and ethnic hierarchies intersect in the construction of attitudes towards EU migrants. Her methodology was based on in-depth, reflexive qualitative analysis of local-level attitudes towards EU migrants, drawing on a framework of localised contact theory. Bulat analysed 120 EU referendum campaign materials (ephemera) containing text on immigration. She compared attitudes in one of the most multi-ethnic (the London Borough of Newham) and one of the most mono-ethnic local authorities in the UK (Tendring in Essex).

In her presentation, Bulat argued that EU migration, usually portrayed as a national issue in media and political debates, has asymmetric local-level impacts for participants. Interviewees’ attitudes are informed, challenged and changed mainly through local anecdotal experiences, but are framed through mediated contact (media, political and community narratives). Direct localised contact shapes residents’ understanding of four key concepts – contribution, community, control and certainty. These understandings influence their overall attitudes towards EU migrants, which are situated within an overarching narrative of change.

Dr Alexandra Bulat is a migration researcher who works at the intersection of academia and the migrants’ rights sector in the UK. She was awarded a PhD from University College London in July 2020. Alexandra’s PhD research explores attitudes towards EU migrants in two local authorities in England (Newham and Tendring) in the context of Brexit. She currently works as a Research Associate at the University of Strathclyde on Prof Tanja Bueltmann’s project titled Brexit, EU citizens’ collective action and the emergence of a European diaspora. Alexandra also works as the Co-Manager of the Young Europeans Network at EU citizens’ rights organisation the3million. She regularly comments on migration issues in British and international media and on social media @alexandrabulat.

Dr. Bulat’s presentation can be accessed here, and the recording of the webinar can be viewed on the EPRC’s YouTube page here.

Our next webinar will take place Wednesday March 17th, when Francesco Molica, Regional Policy Director at the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR), will present on “Next Generation EU: A threat to Cohesion Policy?”.

Future EPRC webinars will delve on topics of regional policy and development.

If you would like to attend, watch out for updates and registrations by following @eprc_eu on Twitter