Group Identities and Social Norms across the Left-right Divide Evidence from the Illegal Pushback of Refugees

16.04.2024 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Ronja Sczepanski
Lecturer affiliation: 
Sciences Po Paris

This paper explores how group endorsements of norm-violating actors affect individual attitudes and intergroup relations, focusing on support for Frontex, the EU border agency accused of illegal pushbacks of refugees. We analyse how individuals adjust their perception of legal norms when their group supports a law-breaking entity. We argue that if one's group supports a norm-violator actor, like Frontex, their support for such actor may increase rather than decrease. In contrast, endorsement by an out-group may lead to further distancing from both the norm-violator and the out-group. Using a vignette experiment, we presented German respondents with scenarios involving Frontex's illegal pushbacks, supported by either left and right-leaning individuals. The results show distinct reactions based on political alignment and group endorsement. Left-leaning individuals maintain their support for Frontex and their group identity when their in-group endorses Frontex, but distance themselves if the right supports it. Right-leaning individuals increase their support for Frontex when their in-group endorses it but distance from their group if perceived as supporting Frontex. Our findings confirm that public support for norm-violating actors by specific ideological groups can legitimize these actors and alter intergroup dynamics. This emphasizes the broader societal impact of failing to hold public actors accountable for actions that challenge the values of liberal democracies, especially at times of high ideological polarization.