This study investigates the causes of fluctuations in public concern about immigration and contends that issues emphasized in media coverage explain these fluctuations. Drawing on agenda-setting research and theories about issue attributes, it is argued that media emphasis on aspects of immigration that are likely to be unobtrusive but with potentially concrete consequences for the public is likely to raise concern about immigration far more than unobtrusive but abstract issues. The analysis, based on public opinion data and newspaper articles on the topic of immigration to the U.K., shows that press emphasis on two unobtrusive but concrete issues within the theme of immigration—the economy and education—appears to increase concern about immigration; emphasis on more abstract issues evokes little reaction from the British public.

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