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Sebastien Rojon, and his dissertation ‘Immigration and extreme-right voting in France: a contextual analysis of the 2012 presidential elections’ has won the Dr Nicola Knight Prize in Quantitative Methods for best MSc dissertation in 2013.

In memory of Dr Nicola Knight, the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography awards the prize for the best use of quantitative methods in an anthropological dissertation.

Sebastien’s dissertation addresses the rise of extreme right voting in contemporary France. The dissertation has a rich theoretical framework based on realistic conflict theory and contact theory, which is enhanced by a wide range of contextual information to illustrate the theoretical points made. Sebastien suggests that these two major theories might not be as mutually exclusive as they seem, because they operate at different geographical levels; he develops eight hypotheses on factors related to far right electoral support in France and tests these at different geographical scales using a multilevel regression model.

The dissertation was also awarded a distinction and has been published as a joint IMI-COMPAS working paper available to download.

Sebastien completed the MSc in Migration Studies in 2013. When asked about his experience, Sebastien said:

Being an interdisciplinary subject, migration can provide a lens into many other areas of interest, for example an investigation into the relationship between immigration and the level of support for the extreme-right can turn into a discussion of the different reasons why people vote for the extreme-right.

The course not only gave us the freedom to explore other subjects, but it also equipped us with the necessary skills. When I started the programme I had no previous experience with statistics, but after having been properly introduced to social surveys, I was inspired to employ quantitative methods for my dissertation. At several points I found myself struggling with the software, but the advantage of being tied to the International Migration Institute and the Centre on Migration Policy and Society is that there are many academics more than willing to help you.

The most valuable lesson I learned from the course was to be critical: we should be critical of policies which assume that migration leads to development, we should critical of political claims that immigrants have a significant negative impact on the economy, and we should be critical of those who exaggerate the scale of migration when only 2-3 percent of the world's population are migrants.