Islamophobia has become a major social issue both in Europe and in the United States (Bleich, 2011; Hafez, 2014; Helbling, 2012; Strabac & Listhaug, 2008). Through different research vehicles and global polling studies, Gallup has collected a great deal of data detailing public opinion about various aspects of respect, treatment, and tolerance with respect to Muslims worldwide. The data show that Islamophobia has increased in frequency and prevalence during the past decade (Gallup World, 2013). Germany is no exception in this regard (Decker, Kiess & Brähler, 2016). Accordingly, hostile and violent actions against Muslims and Islamic facilities have increased in several European countries (Brauns, 2012; The Guardian, 2016). Nevertheless, systematic empirical studies addressing Islamophobia in Germany are scarcely found (de Nève, 2013). Yet the empirical analysis of Islamophobia is crucial for practical and theoretical purposes. In-depth knowledge of the extent, forms, and possible causes of Islamophobia is essential for developing countermeasures to mitigate the negative consequences.
The overall aim of my PhD study is to contribute to ongoing academic discussions surrounding the topic of Islamophobia from social and political psychology perspectives. As a whole, the research project aims at systematically analyzing the structure, consequences, and some social, political, and psychological mechanisms of Islamophobia in Germany. Broadly speaking, my research addresses overarching questions such as: What is Islamophobia? What are the social, political, and psychological underpinnings that best explain it? And why care about it? Several key issues, including the definition, dimensionality, measurement, operationalization, contributing factors, consequences, and comparability of Islamophobia, are addressed in the four individual papers.