The original empirical research studies contained in this book represent a series of social science inquiries aimed at measuring public opinion of immigrant involvement in crime as well as opinions on certain aspects of immigrant policies in Italy. Each of the three original research empirical studies employed telephonic survey questionnaires using a systematic random sample method to compile data on opinions among respondents. Each study compares responses representing opinions on immigrant and non-immigrant crime with available official crime statistics. The initial original empirical research study in 2004 used content analysis method to compile data on newspaper reporting of area crime in the Vicenza Province in northern Italy. That study examined newspaper reporting of crime and its impact on public opinion of immigrant involvement in crime. Newspaper reporting and subsequent public opinion of immigrant involvement are examined in six major crime categories (Assault, Theft, Robbery, Prostitution, Illegal Drugs, and Fraud). The second original empirical research study in 2006 focused on public opinion of immigrant crime in the six crime categories and expanded the scope from an inquiry of immigrant crime to include policy related issues, while still examining the influence of newspaper exposure. That study compared public opinion of immigrant crime involvement from survey responses in 2004 to those in 2006, and added the selected immigrant policy baseline questions on public opinion regarding (1) immigrant policy controls, (2) immigrant quota’s, (3) legal immigrants’ right to vote, (4) unfavorable perception of immigrant cultural influences on Italian society, and (5) unfavorable perception that immigrant presence perpetuates criminal and terrorist activities. The third original empirical research study in 2013 examined the influence of newspaper exposure and added the geographic location of Reggio Calabria Province in southern Italy.
There was a demonstrated and measurable impact in various degrees of significance regarding newspaper exposure and its influence on public opinion of respondents concerning crime worry, immigrant involvement in crime, and immigrant policy related issues. Official crime statistics clearly showed that there were some selected crime categories (prostitution) that immigrants were more responsible for, and their involvement other crime was elevated over and above their percentage of the population (Theft, Robbery, Illegal Drugs, and Assault). All three original empirical research studies confirm a similar pattern of over-representation of immigrants and under-representation of Italian non-immigrants in those crime categories. Immigrant over-representation in crime and exaggerated media accounts of immigrants’ involvement in crime creates a negative image of the immigrant and possible obstructions for the full integration of immigrant groups into the community. This process could potentially delay assimilation creating a vicious cycle keeping immigrants and even their host-nation-born offspring from ever getting beyond immigrant status and becoming fully socially integrated and culturally assimilated citizens. The negative perceptions regarding continued immigrant policy controls, quotas, and that greater immigrant presence in the community increases crime and terrorism are still major issues that may tend also to discourage, delay, disrupt, and/ or deny positive integration, proper socialization and full assimilation of immigrants.
Data can be viewed in light of some crime theory ‘key elements’ and ‘explanations’ to account for elevated immigrant involvement in crime as well as the impact of media influence on public opinion regarding immigrant involvement in crime and immigrant policy and relationships to immigrant integration, socialization and assimilation.