The Relationship between Beliefs in Free Markets, Nationalism, and Immigration: Implications for Social Studies Educators

William David McCorkle, Jessie Montezuma


The ideas of free markets and less government regulation were associated at the turn of the 20th Century with a more internationalist approach and, at times, even more openness to immigration. Some of these dynamics have shifted particularly with the rise of a more populist economic message with leaders like Donald Trump. This study examines the relationship between free markets and immigration as well as examining the role of nationalism in this relationship. The findings show that there is a negative relationship between more free-market ideas and more inclusive ideas towards immigration though the relationship was not statistically significant when controlling for other variables. The implications of this incongruence in beliefs about the idea of free markets and the role of government are discussed with particular attention to the changing political dynamics within the United States. Furthermore, attention is given to the implications of this relationship for social studies teachers as they discuss issues related to immigration.


immigration, free markets; populism, nationalism, protectionism

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