SESSION 1: 10:00 AM -11:30 AM

Panel D: Seeing People, Not Problems: Towards Empathy and Human Solidarity

C102 Hesburgh Center

Moderator: Holly Rivers

Effects of Political Socialization on Perceptions towards Central American Migrants

Katherine Fulcher, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville 

Since early 2018, xenophobic attitudes towards Central American Migrants have spiked among Mexican adults. However, it is largely unknown if youth in Mexico feel the same way. This research explores xenophobia among university students through the lens of political socialization, which is the process of developing political opinions, attitudes, and behavior. This study sought to discover what agents of socialization (family, social media, traditional media, and a university education) are most prominent among Mexican youth and what effects these agents have on student perceptions of Central American migrants and migration. To address these questions, a sequential explanatory mixed methods design, using a 25-question survey and follow up interviews, was employed in Oaxaca, Mexico. Results were analyzed through descriptive statistics as well as the “Kendalls Tau” Rank correlation test to determine the effects the various agents of socialization had on student perceptions. Results revealed that social media and a university education were the most important agents to the political socialization of Mexican youth. Although, the simple presence of these factors has no statistically significant effect on perceptions of Central American migrants, positive rhetoric and representation of migrants in the home and online does. It was also determined that heavy use of traditional media, such as TV news programs and newspapers, could be linked to a more negative perception of Central American migrants. To begin mitigating xenophobia among youth in Mexico, independent news organizations should promote positive depictions of migrants, limiting focus on the crime, violence, and corruption in Central America.


The Pressures of Social Assimilation Faced by Syrian Women in Berlin

Maria Ventura, University of Notre Dame

As the global migration crisis continues, much academic research and news media coverage has evaluated the current situation of migrants in their host countries, especially in regards to how they contribute to the host country’s economy. This work, instead, analyzes how Syrian women in Berlin, Germany have experienced social pressures surrounding integration. Focus groups conducted in June and July 2019 provide support for the claims made. It is revealed that many Syrian women feel that they are already integrated, and are now being forced to assimilate to German life and culture. These findings should be taken into account by governments, NGOs, and the public to create a harmonious society without forced assimilation.


Work to Break Taboos

Aya Nagai, University of Notre Dame

While gender disparity in various aspects has been shrinking gradually around the world due to the persistent effort of both public and private sectors, some women are still denied of very basic human rights of menstrual hygiene management (MHM). Social stigma and cultural barriers have prevented previous research and discussion of MHM in many parts of the world, even though it is an urgent problem that affects 50% of the world population.

Although in many countries, governments and NGOs have begun to make efforts to raise awareness for MHM and spread menstrual education, this may be causing changes in how mothers teach, share with, and give support to their daughters about menstruation. In order to assess the impact of policy changes regarding menstrual education on mother-daughter relationships, I conducted interviews with mothers in Dharavi, India about their interaction with their mothers and with their daughters on menstruation. Our results suggest that the mandatory menstrual education implemented by the municipal government can discourage mothers from initiating conversation with their daughters around menstruation. In Dharavi, one of the largest slams in the world near Mumbai, mothers were mentioning that school should be the one responsible to teach their daughters about menstruation, as opposed to their menarche experience where they received education and support from their mothers.The findings imply that there is a need for the government to communicate more clearly and transparently about the content of menstrual education offered at schools to a broader community and to educate parents as well as daughters about menstruation and the need for shunning taboos around it.


Hear Me Out: Migrant Voice, Gender, and American Empathy for the Immigrant

Erin Albertini, University of Notre Dame

In 2017, the foreign-born population living in the United States reached 44.4 million, accounting for 13.6% of the total US population. In recent years, however, it has been found that more Mexicans are leaving the US than arriving, resulting in a decrease in unauthorized immigration and overall Latino arrivals (Radford 2019). Despite this trend of falling immigration from Latin America, the discourse and sentiment surrounding the Latin American migrant group has grown increasingly negative in recent years. This study examines the effects of the inclusion of migrant voice in written news on reader empathy for migrant narratives. In past studies, it has been suggested that a narrative format of journalism can evoke greater empathy from readers (Oliver et al. 2012). Using an experimental strategy (n=477), I demonstrate whether direct quotations in articles can elicit a similar effect towards an immigrant population. While no overall difference was found between the two experimental groups, when controlling for particular demographic groups such as gender, significant trends emerged. Men and women displayed significantly different levels of empathy to questions of humanitarian issues and policy, but these differences only existed with a particular article version. These results will help journalists understand the impact their stories have on migrant perceptions, especially in the context of gender.