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'We, the People' in an Age of Migration:

Immigrants' Political Integration in Comparative Perspective"

Irene Bloemraad

442 Barrows Hall, MC #1980

Department of Sociology
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-1980


Paper prepared for the University of Pennsylvania Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and
Constitutionalism, December 13, 2007.
The past decade has seen the retreat, if not demise, of multiculturalism in numerous Western

liberal democracies. Among its flaws, critics have particularly attacked multiculturalisms

apparent failure to integrate immigrants into host societies.1 Some concerns center on socio-

economic exclusions. Multiculturalism is believed to encourage immigrants self-segregation

and, in doing so, impede their integration into mainstream social and economic structures

(e.g., Koopmans, et al. 2005). A second, equally loud complaint centers on civic and political

integration. Immigrants cultures, values and insular behaviors are viewed as antithetical to

the liberal democratic creed that unites citizens in Western countries. Scholars have

consequently noted a shift toward stronger policies of cultural and civic assimilation

(Brubaker 2001; Entzinger 2003; Joppke 2004), and some liberal theorists have attacked

multiculturalism for its emphasis on collective rights and culture over individual rights and

universalism (e.g., Barry 2001).

The backlash against multiculturalism can be seen on the ground in many immigrant-

receiving countries. The United Kingdoms Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of

2002 introduced a citizenship ceremony to mark the importance of and foster pride in

British citizenship. Australia has taken steps to reinforce common Australian values.

Politicians in the Netherlands have dropped the rhetoric of multiculturalism, instead passing

the 2003 Law on Dutch Citizenship, which requires immigrants to demonstrate oral and

written knowledge of the Dutch language, as well as Dutch politics and society. Some

Dutch politicians have even suggested an outright ban on wearing the full length burka in

public, a debate echoed in Frances 2004 legislation forbidding Muslim headscarves (or any

ostentatious religious symbol) in public schools. In Canada, the province of Quebec

established a special Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to

Cultural Differences, which has heard repeated claims that immigrants in Quebec remain

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too apart from the French-speaking majority and demand too many cultural and religious

accommodations. Even in the United States, where arguably the dominate axes of debate

over immigration focus on economics and security concerns, socio-cultural worries capture

public and scholarly attention, as seen in the controversy over Samuel Huntingtons fear that

Hispanic migration will dilute the core values of the United States (2004) and claims that

multiculturalism fosters the disuniting of America (Schlesinger Jr. 1998). Similar

complaints are heard across the Western, industrialized world.

These debates illuminate a hole in social scientists theories of (variously) immigrant

assimilation, integration and incorporation. Sociologists have long focused on socio-

economic integration (e.g., education, income, employment), residential dispersion,

acculturation (including self identities), language shift, and intermarriage to measure

assimilation. They have been remarkably silent on political or civic integration.2 Perhaps

they feel such studies are better suited to political scientists. Yet political scientists have also

directed limited attention to immigrant civic and political engagement. Instead, particularly in

the United States, they have grouped immigrant and native-born participation under the

rubric of minority politics.3 There has also been limited attention to the intersection of

political integration with other socio-economic adaptation dynamics.

This paper consequently raises two sets of questions. First, what are the processes

by which immigrants become part of the civic and political structures of a new country, and

what are the relationships between economic, social, cultural, civic and political integration?

Second, how does multiculturalism complement or undermine processes of integration, and

what other state policies might affect immigrant political integration?

I do not claim to have the answers to these questions, but instead wish to open a

conversation around them. In what follows, I consider how prominent sociological models

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of assimilation make sense of political and civic integration, or fail to do so. I then consider

this literature in the context of political theorizing around multiculturalism. I suggest that

assertions of multiculturalisms failure over socio-economic inclusion misread the goals or

claims of multiculturalism. It is above all a theory of political inclusion and citizenship. As

such, there is good evidence for its success in various countries, and I offer some empirical

evidence to this effect. Multiculturalism deals poorly, however, with socio-economic

integration, an area better theorized by sociologists of immigration. More generally, I

speculate about the relationship between multiculturalism and economic inequality. Is socio-

economic integration a necessary precursor to political integration, or is political

mobilization a pathway to better social and economic outcomes? Are political and socio-

economic integration complementary, do they work independently but in parallel, or is there

a trade off between the two?

<H1 Political Integration and Models of Immigrant Assimilation

Most theories of immigrants social, cultural and economic integration stem from the

American experience with immigration over the course of the 20th century. From the early

1900s into the 1960s, classic models of assimilation viewed immigrant adaptation as a linear

process, with various types of integration thought to progressively follow each other (Park

and Burgess 1969 [1921]; Park 1930; Warner and Srole 1945; Gordon 1964). Scholars

debated whether this process was marked by Anglo-conformity or the creation of a new

melting pot mainstream, and they disagreed over whether or not some types of assimilation,

such as acculturation, would inevitably lead to other sorts of assimilation (Gordon 1964).

However, they generally agreed that, with time and generational succession, immigrants

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would give up their distinctive languages, norms, identities, and practices, eventually

becoming just Americans.

Beginning the 1960s and continuing to the present, models of resurgent or reactive

ethnicity and segmented assimilation challenge the idea of a single sequential path to

assimilation (Glazer and Moynihan 1963; Portes and Zhou 1993; Zhou 1999; Portes and

Rumbaut 2006). Segmented assimilation, in particular, claims that integration experiences

are stratified by class and race. Depending upon race, human capital, and residential location

in inner-city areas, the second generation will follow one of three trajectories: straight-line

assimilation into the white middle class; downward assimilation into an urban minority

underclass; or upward socio-economic assimilation through the retention of ethnic culture

and social capital (Portes & Zhou 1993; Zhou 1999). The segmented assimilation approach

makes a sharp break with prior theorizing by presenting multiple trajectories for the

descendents late 20th and early 21st century migrants, and it argues that the retention of ethnic

culture and ethnic solidarity are helpful to integration, rather than a hindrance. It further

places strong emphasis on the structural constraints imposed by racial hierarchies and

economic restructuring, which limit immigrants ability to achieve socio-economic success.

Most recently, Richard Alba and Victor Nee (1997; 2003) have offered a new

assimilation model, one that tries to avoid the ethnocentrism and determinism of old linear

assimilation while retaining the key notion that over generations, immigrants children and

grandchildren integrate into an American cultural, social and economic mainstream (see also

Perlmann 2005). Alba and Nee define assimilation as the decline of ethnic distinction such

that cultural and social differences have little to no effect in inter-ethnic interactions or

relations. Assimilation occurs when individual immigrants and families make purposive

decisions to get ahead. Since opportunities are greater within mainstream institutionsand

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civil rights legislation as well as contemporary acceptance of diversity make discrimination

illegal or illegitimatemost immigrants will rationally choose to assimilate by learning

English and being part of the dominant American socio-economic structure.

Strikingly, most of these accounts treat immigrants civic and political integration as a

secondary concern. Indeed, there is relatively little consideration of politics, either as a

source of integration problems or a solution to these problems. Cultural assimilation, social

integration and economic mobility receive primary attention.

For example, within the segmented assimilation model, limited economic mobility

implicitly stems from global and local economic restructuring rather than political decisions.

The origins of racial discrimination and hierarchy are only loosely linked to politics since

racism is generally portrayed as a permanent part of American society. Portes and Zhou

(1993) suggest that the primary effects of residential concentration within cities is to bring

the children of immigrants into contact with poor, native-born minorities, but there is a

curious silence on the politics of the urban core. They do not examine how governments

have under-funded public services in these areas or the politics of public schooling, although

some research supporting segmented assimilation clearly documents the negative impact of

poor inner-city schools (Waters 1999). Within segmented assimilation models, ethnic

community, solidarity and culture are important for economic mobility largely because they

insulate immigrant children from the negative influence of native-born minority peers, not

because they act as a resource to affect political change.

Some work by Alejandro Portes and Rubn Rumbaut (2006) touches on the

intersection of politics and other forms of assimilation, but these threads have not been

carefully woven into the segmented assimilation paradigm. In a discussion of politics, Portes

and Rumbaut (2006:117-67) adopt the view that economic marginality and nativist attacks

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spur reactive ethnicity, but the general portrayal is one of immigrants passive endurance.

It is unclear how or whether politics affects segmented assimilation, mostly because the

typology is largely based on the different class resources that immigrants bring with them,

while ethnicity regularly trumps class as a motive for collective mobilization (Portes and

Rumbaut 2006: 162, emphasis in original). Thus, while scholars in this tradition suggest that

government policy provides a more receptive integration context to political refugees than

other immigrants (Portes and Rumbaut 1996; Portes and Zhou 1993), the politics of entry

are less prominent in later accounts of Vietnamese immigrants educational success (Zhou

and Bankston III 1998).

Contemporary new assimilation models fare little better. Alba and Nees (2003)

formulation rests squarely on a micro-economic view of new institutionalism and they

present no empirical data on political or civic integration. State action is important in their

model, but the dynamics of politics are largely left outside it. Alba and Nees (guardedly)

optimistic view that assimilation will occur, despite racial and economic hierarchies, hinges

on the presence of civil rights laws that provide immigrants with a reasonable chance of fair

treatment within the mainstream. In discussing the successful assimilation of the

descendants of early European immigrants, the authors point out the importance of key

social policies such as the G.I. Bill and federal mortgage efforts in helping the children of

immigrants achieve higher levels of schooling and become homeowners in less segregated

communities. They explicitly say, however, that understanding the evolution of those laws

and policies is outside the scope of their project, as is a consideration of the organizational

infrastructure mediating between the individual and macro-level institutions. These very

organizationsunions, religious institutions, political clubs and the likeare, I would argue,

central to understanding immigrants political integration.

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<H1> The Importance of the Group in Immigrants Political Integration

Although not developed, we can extract two models of immigrants political

integration embedded within the existing scholarship on immigrant adaptation, in sociology

and political science. The two models differ based on whether scholars presume that

American society is basically open to integrating diverse immigrants (by taste or legal

necessity), or whether racism, economic inequality or a reluctance to share power

fundamentally work to keep newcomers outside the mainstream.

One model, which I call political assimilation, delineates political integration as a micro-

level process by which individual immigrants (or their descendents) assimilate into an

established political and civic system such that those of immigrant-origins are

indistinguishable from native-born Americans in their political attitudes, partisanship, and

behaviors. In this model, political assimilation either follows or occurs simultaneously with

other forms of assimilation. A classical example is Robert Dahls (1961) study of pluralist

politics in New Haven, Connecticut. Dahl suggests that democratic decision-making in New

Haven was issue-based and dependent on a changing coalition of actors, some of whom

responded to or represented immigrant concerns. Importantly, Dahl argues that many

immigrant issues stem primarily from immigrants working-class backgrounds rather than

their cultural or ethnic differences. He contends that as immigrants and their descendents

achieve upward mobility and social assimilation, ethnic groups pass through three stages of

political assimilation that eventual render those of immigrant-descent indistinguishable from

others in their civic and political activities (Dahl 1961: 32-36).

A second model, political incorporation, presumes that immigrants integration into

political systems occurs as a process of conflict and contestation since those in power are

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largely reluctant to share decision-making with newcomers. From this viewpoint, immigrant

communities should be considered as potential or actual political groups that work to have

collective influence on politics, somewhat akin to advocacy or interest groups. In this

model, ethnicity and immigrant origins play an important part in defining common interests

and/or providing collective identity. Political incorporation is group-based because

discrimination and blocked mobility provide an important motivation to collective

organizing: resurgent or reactive ethnicity becomes salient as individuals use common

immigrant origins to redress inequalities and discrimination through the political system

using group-based action (Glazer & Moynihan 1963, 1975). In some versions of the political

incorporation model, a certain degree of socio-economic mobility facilitates group-based

political incorporation: with economic mobility comes more resources to sustain ethnic

organizations, greater confidence in the groups ability to organize, and concrete grievances

when mobile individuals continue to face prejudice because of their ethnicity (Parenti 1967).

Individual-level political assimilation and group-based political incorporation are two

different paths to political integration: in both models immigrants and their children become

part of the political system, albeit in different ways. A situation in which immigrants are

completely absent from domestic politicsby choice or through exclusionwould indicate

a lack of political integration. One can imagine such a situation when groups faced with

prejudice or blocked mobility do not have access to the political system, or when migrants

see themselves as temporary sojourners and keep attention and energies focused on

homeland politics.

With the benefit of hindsight, we can ask, was the political integration of European

immigrants and their children most characterized by individual-level assimilation or group-

based incorporation? At first blush, the second path seems to have led to greater political

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success than the former. Indeed, it is possible, in line with the presumption of reactive

ethnicity, that group-based politics facilitated socio-economic integration. Space constraints

prevent an extended discussion why this might be so, but I will offer one example.

Milton Gordons (1964) refinement of linear assimilation is considered a canonical

account with the sociology of immigration. According to Gordon, assimilation can be

broken down into seven components, with cultural assimilation, or acculturation, the first

step of the process.4 Gordon contends that most groups acculturate quite quickly, but that

acculturation does not necessarily lead to other assimilation. Instead, the lynchpin to full

assimilation is structural assimilation, large-scale entrance into cliques, clubs, and

institutions of the society (1964:71). According to Gordon, once immigrants enter into

personal relations with those in the core society, intermarriage will occur, a sense of

common peoplehood will develop, prejudice and discrimination will die away, and civic

assimilation will follow. What Gordon terms civic assimilation, the absence of value and

power conflicts (1964:71) is largely political integration, based on his later examples of

civic assimilation.

Strikingly, Gordons own empirical analysis directly contradicts his abstract account

of assimilation stages. In a key table describing where various groups stand along the

assimilatory continuum, Gordon notesin line with his argumentthat three of four

groups he examined exhibit substantial acculturation, but none demonstrate complete or

even substantial assimilation across the other elements (1964:77). He remains curiously

silent, however, about the fact that all four of his groups show partial, substantial or even

complete political (civic) integration, the only dimension of assimilation in which all groups

can be considered significantly assimilated. Gordons own data consequently imply that

political integration is not dependent on cultural, structural or social assimilation into the

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core group of the receiving society. Instead, his structural difference (perhaps akin to

contemporary discussions of social capital and civic associationalism) might promote

political integration through group-based incorporation.

Indeed, although groupedness is considered by traditional linear assimilation

models as a marker of failed social assimilation, it might well be a prerequisite for political

incorporation. In the case of contemporary integration models, both segmented assimilation

and new assimilation approaches make passing reference to European immigrants use of

ethnic politics, implying that immigrant groups might have political and economic interests

in groupedness. The underlying impression, never fully theorized, is that group-based

political incorporation might precede or complement individual socio-economic

advancement. Put another way, political incorporation might be central to socio-economic

assimilation if immigrants and their children can change problematic institutional rules and

arrangements through political voice.

<H1> The Multicultural Debates and Groupedness

Theoretical models and debates around immigrant adaptation largely come from U.S.

scholarship centered on the American experience with immigration in the 20th century. As

such, it is predicated on a specific national context, with a particular history of race relations,

a particular approach to the market capitalism, and a particular understanding of state-society

relations. In moving to a cross-national consideration of immigrant political integration, I

want to first consider how we must understand variation in the national contexts within

which immigrants find themselves.

<H2> Flavors of Civic Nationalism

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Over the past two decades, a civic notion of nationalism has arguably become the

dominant understanding of citizenship in many Western countries of immigration (Joppke

2004). Through the 1980s and into the mid-1990s, scholars and policy-makers usually made

distinctions between ethnic and civic citizenship across immigrant-receiving countries

(Brubaker 1989, 1992), contrasting countries where ethnic conceptions of citizenship stem

from bonds of common descent (e.g., Germany before 2000, Japan), to countries where

civic citizenship stems from political attachments rather than ethnic or cultural ones (e.g.,

France, the United States). The distinction was seen as relevant to immigrant integration

since ethnic citizenship presumably excludes immigrants from mainstream civic and political

life, while civic citizenship is more open to integrating immigrants (Brubaker 1992;

Koopmans et al. 2005). Recent research by Ruud Koopmans and colleagues shows,

however, that from 1990 to 2002, countries such as Germany, Switzerland, France and the

Netherlands all made significant policy changes toward more civic-territorial notions of

citizenship (2005:73).

Within this category of civic citizenship, we nonetheless find striking distinctions

between countries in the relationship between individual citizens and the state and the role

of the state vis--vis citizens religious and cultural differences. Some states, such as France,

adopt a Republican universalist approach to civic citizenship. Others, such as the United

States, are more laissez-faire. A third group, including Canada, tries to actively intervene

around group rights and identities through multicultural citizenship. I will suggest, contrary to

critics of multiculturalism, that the multicultural model appears well-suited to facilitating

immigrants political incorporation into their adopted country.

The French model adheres most closely to classical notions of Western liberalism,

upon which contemporary civic citizenship is founded. In rejecting the hierarchies of birth

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endemic to 17th and 18th century Europe, classical liberalism rests on a fundamental respect

for universalism and individual equality. Government must remain blind to differences of

ethnicity, religion or national origin in public institutions. U.S. separation of church and

state, French lacit and Frances historic refusal to use ethnic or race categorizations in

government statistics are examples of this stance.

Under the banner of ignoring differences based on ethnicity, immigration and

religion, universalist Republican citizenship edges into an assimilatory view of immigrant

integration. The aggressive refusal to allow certain cultural and religious markers in public

institutions, such as the French Law 2004-228 of 15 March 2004, clearly has a homogenizing

impulse behind it, one that could even, in some contexts, be called a coercive liberal

monoculturalism (Duyvendak 2006).

The American model of civic citizenship is better categorized as laissez-faire, with

some attention to ethno-racial diversity. Ethnicity, race, religion and national origin are

legitimate terms of debate in American public fora, in policy making, in legal circles and in

statistical research to a degree unimaginable in France. Yet government is not supposed to

be in the business of using taxpayer dollars to support specific cultural groups or to promote

their survival. Immigrants are expected to use their own resources to create civic

associations, if they wish, and to mobilize for political ends within a system of political

pluralism. Absent those resources or desires, immigrants can instead integrate into

mainstream civic and political life.

Because blind universalism fails to see discrimination and prejudice based on

ascriptive characteristics, the laissez-faire system supports a broad array of civil rights laws to

provide a level playing field for minorities, including immigrants. Political theorists such as

Brian Barry (2001) hold up the American model as the preferable way to deal with

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immigrant-generated diversity. This modelone of individual choice within a system of

civil rightsalso undergirds the new assimilation accounts of sociologists who argue that

immigrants and their children are successfully integrating into American society and

economy (Alba and Nee 2003).

The multicultural approach to civic citizenship requires immigrant-receiving

countries to actively recognize cultural diversity and make accommodations for the needs of

cultural minorities (Taylor 1994; Kymlicka 1995; Parekh 2006). Since democracy is based on

government by the majority, minorities face inherent disadvantages in the public sphere.

The traditional liberal response is to erect a system of rights, such as freedom of speech and

religion, but critics claim that cultural inequality remains pervasive. Further, since humans

are inherently social beingsnot atomized individuals as assumed under classic liberalism

their identities, desires and political preferences are closely linked to the communities within

which they are born and live (Taylor 1994; Raz 1994). Recognition is not just empty

symbolism, but it provides dignity and legitimacy within the country of reception, thereby

helping immigrant communities become part of civic and political life. Accommodations are

not unfair special privileges or rules, but a way of promoting equality, preventing domination

by the majority and dismantling barriers to full participation. Facilitating the survival and

vitality of cultural communities is a matter of fairness, justice and equality, according to

multicultural theorists.

<H2> Critiques of Multiculturalism: Immigrant Integration Failures

In 2001, one of the pre-eminent multicultural thinkers announced that the debate is

over, and the defenders of minority rights have won the day (Kymlicka 2001:35). While

this might be the case among certain political philosophers, public discussion of

multiculturalism and immigration has been decidedly different.

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The attack on immigrant multiculturalism takes at least three forms. The first set of

concerns rests on a fear of political fragmentation: If we all celebrate the distinctions that

make us different from each other, wont we weaken the bonds that hold a country together?

Thus Samuel Huntington calls for a return to the roots of the American creed that are based

on the English language; Christianity; religious commitment; English conceptions of the

rule of law and dissenting Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic and the belief

that humans have the ability and duty to try to create a heaven on earth (Huntington

2004a:31-32). Without a clear message that tells immigrants about a countrys core values,

immigrants supposedly live in their own communities and enclaves, emboldened by

multiculturalism to live a life apart. The response is a call for strong assimilatory citizenship.

Other critics bemoan the putative loss of shared community not so much for itself,

but for undermining public support for redistribution. In this argument, specific collective

endeavors such as the establishment of the welfare state rely on sentiments of shared fate

with fellow citizens. When multiculturalism valorizes particularistic memberships, support

for universal social policies may wither. Given economic inequalitieswhich seem to be

growing in countries like the United Statessome suggest that multiculturalism creates false

boundaries between similarly situated socio-economic groups, sapping political energies

away from economic redistribution (Gitlin 1995; Gwyn 1995; Hollinger 2000; Barry 2001).

A final critique suggests that multiculturalism creates or reifies invidious distinctions

that can relegate some to second class citizenship despite their individual desires

(Bissoondath 1993; Gwyn 1995; Hollinger 2000; Barry 2001). Multiculturalisms emphasis

on identity and recognition increases the salience of immigrant background and ethnicity,

thereby reify the very categories that served as the basis for unequal rights in the past and

forcing hyphens or labels on people who might not want them. The genius of old-fashion

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liberalism, in this formulation, is its refusal to consider individual particularities and instead

to treat people as equals irrespective of background or ethnicity.

<H2> Immigrants Political and Civic Integration: The Importance of Groups

The question of whether multiculturalism reifies differences in a negative way is one

of the most difficult questions in immigrant integration. Members of the majority group

criticize ethnic differentiation as a sign of immigrants rejection of mainstream society, while

immigrants and their children charge that ethnic labels provide those in the majority with a

convenient way to marginalize, stigmatize and exclude them. Any analysis of reification

requires a nuanced accounting of the costs and benefits of publicly acknowledging ethnic,

racial, religious and cultural differences. In particular, it requires a consideration of the

alternatives. If difference is not recognized and acknowledged, how do we manage

immigrant-generated diversity?

Many of those against state recognition of difference advocate for a universal,

republican citizenship la franaise. Citizens have equality before the state and enjoy direct

relations to government as individuals rather than members of any particular group. Indeed,

in its bid to be neutral, government bypasses intermediate collectives based on religion,

ethnicity, or culture. Proponents of this position are found on the political left and right, in

Europe and in North America. For example, in 2003, Californians debated Proposition 54,

which would have amended the state Constitution to prohibit state and local governments

from using race, ethnicity, color, or national origin to classify individuals in public education,

contracting, or employment.

Making ethnicity an illegitimate basis for identification and political action carries

significant dangers, however. It runs the risk of making inequality invisible and leaving

minorities out of the political process altogether. State-sanctioned categories of ethnicity (or

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race, or religion, or national origin) clearly reinforce the salience of those categories for the

individuals who check off the boxes and who analyze the statistics, but absent such

information, it is impossible to know whether discrimination or institutional barriers

generate inequality between groups because of their differences.

Ignoring ethnicity also probably hurts immigrants political integration, increasing

rather than decreasing civic and political divides between the mainstream and immigrant

groups. Although the theory of liberal democracy focuses on the individualas a voter and

as a possessor of rightspolitics demands action by groups of like-minded people. In the

French republican model, the individual citizen is the primary political actor. In the reality

of French politics, groups of peoplebrought together in political parties, unions or some

other collectivework together to influence outcomes. The foundations of groupedness

are not equally compelling. While immigrants might have various affiliationsto other

homebuyers, to other parents, to other soccer enthusiaststies based on ethnicity are surely

among the strongest and most deeply felt. Some immigrants might chose not to privilege

such ties, but for many people shared origins, similar migration experiences, common

language, similar cultural habits, dress, and food all create a sense of common identity,

despite intra-ethnic differences based on accent, class, region, or even religion.

Immigrants, even those who come with strong desires to assimilate and blend into

their new home, face numerous obstacles to learning about the new society and negotiating

their participation within it. Language is an especially strong barrier, but so too is the fact

that immigrants prior civic and political socialization occurred in a different society.

Individuals and groups within the mainstream majority are not necessarily welcoming or

open to including immigrants within the fold. Taken all together, ethnic organizing is

understandable, even natural in many cases.

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Other vehicles for collective voice exist. Civic associations, political parties and

unions can, and have, integrated immigrants into the civic and political life of the receiving

country, but these organized collectives also carry some practical problems. Civic

associations, identified as a key vehicle for civic engagement and political mobilization in the

United States, appear to make limited overtures to immigrant residents, and local organizing

appears stratified such that immigrant groups command relatively little visibility or weight

among government decision-makers (Ramakrishnan and Viramontes 2006; Bloemraad and

Ramakrishnan 2006). Political parties in the United States engage in limited outreach to

immigrants (Jones-Correa 1998; DeSipio 2001; Wong 2006), and there is not much evidence

that European parties are substantially different, with the possible exception of the British

Labour Party. Other than in northern Europe, union membership is in relatively sharp

decline in most Western industrialized countries (Ebbinghaus and Visser 1999).

On a practical level, then, ethnicity or national origin is a particularly effective way to

organize for group ends. It is easier to ask for help with citizenship or for information about

politics from fellow immigrants who speak the same language and come from a similar

background. Field research shows that immigrants political integration is grounded in

informal ethnic networks, local immigrant community organizations, and the mobilization of

co-ethnic leaders (Alvarez 1987; Kasinitz 1992; Jones-Correa 1998; Bloemraad 2006b; Wong

2006). To ignore the ethnic community blinds us to a key mechanism facilitating

immigrants inclusion into the political system. Critics who worry that multiculturalism

ghettoizes immigrants overlook the fact that the alternative to co-ethnic communities and

mobilization might be no participation at all.

<H1> Evaluating Multiculturalism as a Pathway to Political Integration

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Does multicultural citizenship hinder the integration of diverse peoples into a common

citizenry? The available evidence, often lost in the heat of political rhetoric, suggests that

multicultural policies might very well facilitate immigrants political integration.

<H2> Multiculturalism and Immigration Political Integration: A Comparative Portrait

In contrast to fears of fragmentation la Huntington, naturalization ratescalculated

as the annual number of naturalizations over the non-citizen foreign stockare higher in

countries that embrace multiculturalism than in those more ambivalent or antagonistic to

recognizing pluralism. Weak multicultural states such as Germany, Italy, and Switzerland

recorded an annual naturalization ratethe number of immigrants acquiring citizenship

over the total stock of non-citizensof less than one percent in the early 1990s (Clarke, van

Dam and Gooster 1998; Koopmans et al. 2005). This was much less than stronger

multicultural states, where the naturalization rate was about 6.5 percent in the Netherlands

and Sweden in 1994 and 10 percent in Canada for the same period. The United States, with

its more laissez-faire civic citizenship, had an intermediate naturalization rate of about three

percent (Bloemraad 2006). We cannot know, from a simple correlation, whether

multiculturalism leads to higher levels of citizenship acquisition, or whether other factors

drive both processes, but citizenship statistics clearly suggest that multiculturalism is not

antithetical to naturalization.

We can make this connection more systematic by comparing countries with different

degrees of multiculturalism and examining the relative proportion of immigrants who have

taken up citizenship, as well as the number of foreign-born representatives in national


First, we need to establish degrees of multiculturalism. Usually designations like

ethnic, civic or multicultural are employed in case-oriented studies. This

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methodological approach uses typologies, which represent various types of states.

Countries are categorized by the totality of cultural, institutional or ideological factors that

conjoin to provide a specific opportunity structure or culture for migrants integration and

citizenship (e.g., Bloemraad 2006; Favell 2001; Ireland 1994; Joppke 1999; Koopmans, et al.

2005). Under the case-oriented method, however, all multicultural countries are seen as

equivalent. In reality, countries understand and enact multiculturalism differently. The term

can describe a countrys demographic composition, its normative views on diversity, a

specific political theory or a set of government policies (Fleras & Elliot 1992; Roberts &

Clifton 1990). Instead of ideal-typical typologies, we can instead employ more variable-

oriented categorizations.

Here I build on Banting, Johnston, Kymlicka and Sorokas (2006:56-57)

categorization of countries as strong, moderate or weak multicultural states using policy as a

measure. Batning and colleagues enumerate eight types of multiculturalism policy: formal

affirmation of multiculturalism; multicultural school curricula; insertion of ethnic

representation/ sensitivity in public media or licensing; exemption codes for ethno-religious

minorities (of dress, Sunday store closing, etc.); dual citizenship; state funding for minority

cultural activities; funding of bilingual or mother tongue language instruction; and

affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups. By these measures, Canada and

Australia rank as the only two strong multicultural states, the United States ranks as a

moderate multicultural state along with countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden and the

United Kingdom, while France sits among weak multicultural states, along side Germany,

Japan, Norway and a number of others.5

To evaluate political integration, I use two indices: the proportion of the foreign-

born population that has become a citizen of the country of residence, and the proportion of

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 19
foreign-born legislators in national office. These two measures arguably reflect two ends on

a spectrum of formal political integration. On one end, citizenship is seen as a mark of full

political and legal status in many countries, and it is usually a requirement for electoral

participation, though some countries allow local or even regional voting rights (Hayduk

2006). At the other end of the spectrum, running forand winningnational office

represents not only high-level engagement in a countrys political system, but also the

symbolic representation of immigrant communities (Bloemraad 2006).6 Table 1 offers a

preliminary comparison of multiculturalism and immigrants political integration, using these


[Table 1 about here.]

The available evidence suggests that strong multiculturalism, as measured by

government policies, is correlated with higher levels of citizenship acquisition. The two

countries categorized as strong multicultural states, Canada and Australia, report the

highest naturalization levels of any in the table, 72.6% and 68.4%, respectively. We find

more variability among the moderate and weak multicultural states, with some of the

moderate states, the Netherlands and Sweden, closer to the citizenship levels of Canada and

Australia, while others are more similar to countries with weaker multiculturalism.

Nevertheless, across the three levels of multiculturalism, the strong multicultural states

average a citizenship level of 70.5%, the moderate ones average 52.4% and the weak

multicultural states report, on average, that only 45.4% of the foreign-born have acquired

citizenship. If multiculturalism does facilitate immigrants legal citizenshipwhich the data

suggestit appears to encourage common bonds of community rather than undermine

them, as the critics of multiculturalism charge. Immigrants in multicultural states are not so

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 20
apart from mainstream society that they do not bother to take up citizenship in their

country of residence.

The picture on representation is more mixed, but the dynamics of winning election

to a nations highest legislative body are also highly complex. The last column of Table 1

presents an index of representation, calculated by dividing the percentage of foreign-born

legislators by the proportion of foreign-born in the total population. This is far from a

perfect measure: some might contend that the denominator should be the percent of

foreign-born citizens, rather than residents, while others could argue that we should include

the adult children of immigrants in the calculation. Nevertheless, it gives a rough sense of

high-level political integration.

With data from only six countries, no clear pattern emerges. Canada, with an index

of representation at .78, has the highest degree of foreign-born representation of the six, and

it is also one of the most multicultural. In 2002, 45 foreign-born Members of Parliament sat

in a 301-person House.7 While the slight majority of these MPs hailed from Europe or the

United States, three were born in India, two in China, two in the Middle East (Lebanon and

Syria), five in the Caribbean or Latin America, four in Africa, and one in the Philippines

(Bloemraad 2006: 63). Overall, the proportion of MPs does not reach parity with the

percentage in the general populationand people from East Asia are especially under-

representedbut the Canadian House exhibits a relatively high immigrant diversity.

Especially significant, each of the major federal parties, including the separatist Bloc

Qubecois, includes some foreign-born members.

In contrast, representation in Australias legislature is only about half of what one

would expect given the percent of immigrants in the general population. In 2006, foreign-

born politicians should have occupied 33 seats in Canberra, but only 15 members were born

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 21
outside Australia, 11 of whom hail from Europe (Adams 2007: 74-75). The resulting index

of representation, at .45, is substantially less than in the Netherlands, at .72, or in the United

Kingdom, at .60. Yet Australia can arguably be called more multicultural, in policy, than the

latter two countries.

Of course, many factors complicate a simple analysis of foreign-born legislators.

First, proportional representation electoral systemsas used in the Netherlandscould lead

to greater minority representation, provided that the parties make a commitment to putting

immigrants on party lists. The Dutch PR system may consequently facilitate high level

foreign-born representation, though it bears noting that the first-past-the-post system,

traditionally thought to be a barrier for geographically-dispersed minority representation

does not appear an insurmountable obstacle in Canada or the UK. Here, as in the PR

system, the key likely lies in parties active recruitment and nomination of immigrant

candidates (Bloemraad 2006; Maxwell forthcoming).

Indices of representation are also very sensitive to who, exactly, is counted as

foreign-born. In the reported data, a nationally elected politician counts as foreign-born

if their birthplace lies outside the country of residence. This rough cut is necessary because

whos who lists of legislators do not include information about representatives citizenship

status at birth. The numbers thus include foreign-born citizens: the children of citizens

living abroad (as in the case of former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner, born in the

UK) and those born in former colonies with the citizenship of the metropole (as in the case

of French presidential candidate Sgolne Royale, born in Senegal). The inclusion of those

born in former colonies skews, in particular, the data for France. Whereas 36 members of

the National Assembly were not born in continental France or the DOM-TOM (French

overseas territories), at least 20 appearfrom last names and photosto be the children of

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 22
European French bureaucrats and administrators living in such former French colonies as

Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. The African-born largely exclude politicians with Arabic last

names and darker faces. To compensate, the index of representation for France, at .59,

includes foreign-born citizens in both the numerator and denominator, but a more accurate

measure may well be .37, which attempts to exclude these individuals in the calculation of

the index.

Even with this adjustment, the index of representation in France, a country known

much more for its color-blind universalism than multicultural policies, sits higher than that

of the United States, a country of greater multiculturalism. Indeed, at .17, the American

index of representation is the lowest of the six countries considered, a meager eight

representatives out of 435 seats. This extremely low integration bears further study, though

we can point to some obvious suspects. First, the United States probably has the highest

proportion of unauthorized migrants among the total foreign-born population of any

OECD country. These people cannot become citizens and cannot vote for fellow

immigrants. If we recalculate the US representation index using the proportion of foreign-

born citizens in the denominator, the index increases to 0.41. Even this is low, probably

driven, in part, by the American primary system and the significant financial resources

needed to make a credible run for office in the United States (Bloemraad 2006: Chapter 6).

The upshot of the representation data reveals no clear pattern linking

multiculturalism policies to electoral success. But we also find no evidence that countries

with more robust multicultural policies are less likely to have immigrants devote their time

and energies to domestic politics. One criticism of multiculturalism charges that recognition

and celebration of differences make immigrants less likely to commit to their adopted

country and perhaps more likely to orient political activities to the homeland. The evidence

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 23
in Table 1 does not support such fears. This conclusion finds echo in the analysis of

Koopmans and colleagues (2005), who demonstrate that claims-making around homeland

concerns was much more prevalent in Germany and Switzerland, countries with historically

ethnic rather than civic orientations to nationality and citizenship, while minorities in more

multicultural countries such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom made primarily

domestic claims.

<H2> The Mechanisms of Immigrant Political Integration

The potential mechanisms linking multicultural and integration policies to

immigrants political integration are elaborated in a recent study comparing the United States

and Canada (Bloemraad 2006, 2006b). While patterns of immigrant citizenship and election

to national office in the two countries were largely similar for most of the 20th century, since

the 1970s there has been a rapid and striking divergence in political integration. In 1970,

64% of the foreign born in the United States held a U.S. passport, while in Canada the figure

was 60% (Leacy 1983; Gibson and Lennon 1999). By the dawn of the 21st century, only

40% of the foreign-born in the United States were citizens, but in Canada it was 72% (U.S.

Census Bureau 2002; Statistics Canada 2004). Taking into account the much larger

unauthorized and temporary immigrant population in the United Statesa group legally

barred from citizenshipthe gap attenuates somewhat, to 49% naturalized in the United

States compared with 75% in Canada (Fix, Passel and Sucher 2003). Nevertheless, the

difference remains striking and historically unprecedented. It persists even when controlling

for immigrants place of birth and length of residence (Bloemraad 2006). Most surprisingly,

it runs counter to a simple cost/ benefit calculation of the relative advantages of citizenship

in the two countries: the benefits of citizenship, especially for family reunification and access

to certain social programs, are more substantial in the United States than in Canada.

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 24
In part due to greater citizenship in Canada, but also reflecting immigrants greater

penetration into Canadian politics, we find substantial differences in the number and

proportion of foreign-born in national legislature, as reported above. First generation

immigrants have made much further inroads into Canada politics than in the United States.

The reasons for these differences are varied and complex, but government policies

of multiculturalism and greater programmatic support for immigrant settlement clearly play a

role. Immigrants political integration can be conceived of as a nested process of structured

mobilization whereby many immigrants, especially those with fewer individual resources, use

informal networks and institutions within the immigrant community to learn about, access

and participate in civic and political life. These networks and community institutions are in

turn influenced in important ways by government policies directed to immigrants and

minorities. Governments provide material resources through grant or contract funding,

programmatic access to bureaucrats and policymakers, and technical support in leadership

training, receiving nonprofit status, and so forth. These programs also provide symbolic

resources and influence immigrants understanding of their place and legitimacy in the civic

and political sphere. With official recognition through multiculturalism, ordinary immigrants

and ethnic leaders feel more empowered to participate and make claims within the system.

Such policies create what Suzanne Mettler (2002) calls interpretative effects, facilitating

political integration.

Attention to multiculturalism and settlement policies helps explain the timing of the

divergence in U.S. and Canadian political integration. Canadas policy of official

multiculturalism was first announced in the House of Commons in 1971, language urging

judges to consider the multicultural heritage of Canada was included in the Canadian Charter

of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, and Parliament passed the Canadian Multiculturalism Act

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 25
in 1988. Settlement programs, especially around language training but also for labor force

insertion, experienced growth through the 1970s and into the 1980s. This was precisely the

period that the U.S.-Canada divergence began.

This process of political incorporation relies heavily on the activities and vitality of

community-based and advocacy organizations. Much of the expanding Canadian funding

for multiculturalism and settlement devolved to community based organizations run by or

serving immigrant clienteles. In terms of fiscal outlays, in the 1966-67 fiscal year, the

Citizenship Branch of the Department of the Secretary of State gave $88,150 to 12 groups

concerned with immigrant settlement and participatory citizenship, but by 1974-75, the

branch gave $2.65 million in grants to 648 groups, an amount that grew to over $20 million

in 1987-88 and almost $60 million in 1996-97 (Pal 1993; Heritage Canada 1997). In the mid-

1990s monies for immigrant settlement totaled about $166 million, an amount that remained

relatively steady for about a decade (Citizenship and Immigration Canada 1995). This

funding by the federal Canadian government was supplemented in various provinces and

cities by provincial and municipal programs.

Commentators have argued that these public investments are modest compared to

other government programs, suggesting that Canadian governments adhere mostly to

symbolic multiculturalism (Stasiulis 1988; Roberts and Clifton 1990). Activists point out that

in the late 1990s, multiculturalism funding was cut in half, and settlement support decreased

as a proportion of Citizenship and Immigration Canadas budget from 1995 to 2004. Yet

the budgets of local nonprofits in an immigrant city like Toronto show that many stay afloat

on small grants from various levels of government, allowing such organizations to not only

provide a range of services but also to act as vehicles for political learning and engagement

(Bloemraad 2005; Bloemraad 2006). Nonprofit organizations and civic associations play a

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 26
similar role in the United States (Marwell 2004; Cordero-Guzmn 2005; de Graauw 2006).

However, with much less public funding, especially directed to immigrant issues such as

naturalization or language training, migrant communities in the United States face more

barriers in building strong organizational infrastructures. In 2004, the Canadian federal

government spent about $1500 per new immigrant (House of Commons 2003:2), a figure

that is impossible to compare cross-nationally since the U.S. federal government does not

have similar programs for non-refugee migrants.

Indeed, the case of refugee resettlement in the United States provides additional

support for the perspective that active state intervention can facilitate civic and political

integration. Refugees, especially those allied aliens fleeing Communist regimes, face a

more receptive government environment than other migrants (Pedraza-Bailey 1985; Hein

1993; Portes and Rumbaut 2006). The U.S. government provides social benefits to

individuals and families, as well as community grants to mutual assistance associations. Over

the past twenty years, the annual budget of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement has

fluctuated between about $350 million to $450 million, while numbers of official refugees

run between 65,000 and 80,000. This represents, at a minimum, an investment of at least

$4375 for each refugee.

Such public outlays produce material and interpretative effects. For example,

government funding has had a clear effect on the ability of Vietnamese communities to build

a robust organizational infrastructure (Hein 1997; Bloemraad 2005, 2006). Despite fears of

welfare stigma, government funded healthcare benefits appear to make medical professionals

and administrators treat Cubans as more deserving and more able to make claims than

Mexicans, regardless of legal status (Horton 2004). Although refugees have clear political

reasons to naturalize and participate in U.S. politics, the public support given to them

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 27
probably plays an important role in explaining Cuban Americans substantial political

incorporation (Moreno 1996), as well as refugees greater propensity to naturalize than

eligible non-refugee migrants with similar socio-economic and demographic characteristics

(Fix, Passel and Sucher 2003).8

<H1> Beyond Multiculturalism: Welfare States and State-Society Relations

So far I have argued that multiculturalism likely promotes immigrants civic and political

integration. It provides immigrant groups with recognition that legitimizes their place in

their adopted country and with accommodations that facilitate participation. The discussion

has not, however, addressed an additional, important critique of multiculturalism, namely

that multicultural policies impede socio-economic mobility, creating silos of underclass

minorities. In the Netherlands perceived failures of social and economic integration are

central to attacks against multiculturalism (Entzinger 2003; Koopmans et al. 2005).

If founded, the danger of socio-economic segregation is a genuine threat to national

cohesion, political stability and overall immigrant integration. Immigrants who cannot break

into the economic mainstream might take their frustrations into the streets or channel their

energies to violent ends, while majority taxpayerswho come to associate ethnic minorities

with welfare use and marginalitymight draw increasingly rigid distinctions between an us

of many generations and a them of immigrant origins.

This final section speculates about the relationship between political and civic

integration and other forms of integration. Such an exercise is critical because the political

theory behind multiculturalism has little to say about socio-economic integration. Implicitly,

multiculturalism suggests that with recognition and accommodation, immigrants gain

psychological resources and a more even playing field within which they can achieve socio-

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 28
economic mobility. Explicitly, however, key theorists in this tradition underscore that the

cultural concerns of multiculturalism are intellectually distinct from concerns over class

inequalities and social mobility (Kymlicka 1995:179-81; Parekh 2006: 365-67). There is no

multicultural theory of socio-economic integration.

This overview of immigrant integration models suggests two hypotheses about the

relationship between socio-economic integration and multiculturalism. First, all things equal,

immigrant communities with greater political incorporation and mobilization around

national origins or ethnicity should, with time, experience more rapid socio-economic

integration. This hypothesis is based on the assumption that participation in democratic

politics can and will create positive policy change that helps remove barriers to social and

economic integration, or that it allows groups to capture certain state resources. Within the

United States, we would expect different socio-economic outcomes between more and less

politically organized groups. Comparing the United States to other countries, we might

expect quicker socio-economic integration for the children of immigrants in the United

States, given more open citizenship laws (for both the first and US-born generations), as well

as a greater openness to ethnic politics.

It is possible, however, that immigrants might face an integration trade-off, and that

the reverse is true. Political mobilization might create an anti-immigrant or anti-ethnic

backlash by those in the majority or mainstream. Research on white political attitudes

suggests a group threat model whereby majority whites react against the presence and

mobilization of blacks and American Indians (Quillian 1996; Bobo and Tuan 2006). In this

case, immigrants might face an uncomfortable trade-off of pursuing individual socio-

economic projects but remaining politically silent, or engaging in democratic mobilization,

but stirring up animosity that hurts social integration and economic mobility.

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 29
If group threat is a possibility, multicultural theory suggests that official

multiculturalism, encompassing both formal recognition of diverse cultures and active

support for cultural groups, should mitigate rather than exacerbated political conflicts. It

could do so by influencing majority members perception that minorities have legitimate

standing in society, and by improving minorities ability to organize with dignity rather than

as a form of protective and potentially explosive reactive ethnicity. A second hypothesis

then suggests that multicultural policies will promote socio-economic integration more

rapidly than absent such policies, because these policies facilitate a positive political dialogue

and process of accommodation between immigrants and established majority residents.

We possess, to my knowledge, no empirical evidence on the relationship between

multicultural policies and immigrants socio-economic outcomes. Increasingly, however,

academics are echoing public alarms regarding the impact of ethno-racial diversity on states

willingness to adopt redistributive policies. Economists Alesina, Glaeser and Sacredote

(2001) speculate that with increased diversity residents feel less reciprocal altruism toward

others, and are thus less likely to support the welfare state. Robert Putnam (2007) claims

that social capital in the United Statesa potential factor in facilitating democratic

engagement and the social trust needed for redistributiondiminishes in places of greater

ethno-racial diversity. While both studies beg the question of why people would view ethno-

racial differences as a source of reduced trust or altruism in the first place, such findings lend

credence to claims that countries must respect a certain seuil de tolrance when it comes to new

immigration: too much, too fast, the argument goes, leads to a nativist backlash.

We have some evidence that adopting multicultural policies (rather than diversity per

se) does not undermine government provision of public benefits. A recent study by Banting

and colleagues finds that countries with strong [multiculturalism policies] saw the largest

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 30
rise in social spending and the greatest strengthening of their redistributive effort (Banting

et al. 2006: 66). Their research suggests that significant changes in the proportion of

immigrants in a countryrather than the absolute numbermight slow down growth in

social spending, but that multiculturalism policies could potentially attenuate, rather than

exacerbate, such spending slowdowns since it is possible that [multiculturalism policies] can

acknowledge diversity in a way that makes it less threatening to members of the dominant

group (Banting et al. 2006: 84).

In on-going research analyzing the determinants of social trust, civic engagement,

political participation and naturalization in 23 countries, colleagues and I have found hints

that policy (rather than innate socio-psychological traits) matters, but the relevant policies

may need to be expanded to include the broader type of welfare state or state/society

relations in a country.

A limited number of cases by necessity limit the number of explanatory variables we

can include in a regression equation, but we find hints that socio-economic inequality

exacerbates political integration problems. Without any policy controls, we find that

higher growth in the size of the foreign-born population and new migration are both

associated with fewer organizational membership, lower political participation and lower

naturalization. (Interestingly, having a relatively larger Muslim population is associated with

more organizational memberships and higher naturalization.) However, these correlations

largely cease to be significant once we add variables for income inequality (calculated using a

Gini coefficient) and multiculturalism policies. Critically, both variables have independent,

positive effects on social capital and political engagement outcomes.

This research is on-going and fraught with serious problems of multicollinearity. It

is worth noting that among the six liberal states in our dataset (as categorized by Esping-

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 31
Andersen), five exhibit moderate to high multiculturalism. (Ireland is the exception.) In

contrast, three of the four social democratic states exhibit low multiculturalism, with the

exception of Sweden. Continental models are more mixed, while the southern familial

states have uniformly low multiculturalism. There four types of welfare-states are highly

correlated with Gini coefficients, so it is hard to separate out the potential effect of a

particular set of state/society relations from the direct effect of socio-economic inequality in

a particular society.

Nevertheless, these initial results suggest that rather than thinking about how

diversity can undermine redistribution, we should perhaps instead ask how greater

redistribution and more equal societies can better deal with and accommodate diversity.

Swank and Betz (2003), for example, suggest that generous social programs attenuate

majority residents economic securities in the face of globalization and immigration: the

relationship between percent immigrant and support for far-right parties is lowest in more

universal welfare states. We can also build on the work of sociologists Ethan Schofer and

Marion Fourcade-Gourichas (2001) who make a sophisticated argument that cross-national

differences in civic engagement are best understood by the degree of corporatism and

statism in a society, rather than the grassroots participatory inclinations of individual


<H1> Conclusion: The Long View

Public debates over multiculturalism have been hobbled by an unrealistic understanding of

what multiculturalism seeks to address, especially among policymakers and the general

public. It is primarily a political theory about equality and inclusive citizenship centered on

culture; it does not formally consider the implications of immigrants socio-economic

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 32
integration. At the same time, those who have most clearly theorized immigrants social and

economic integration have often neglected political integration, especially as it intersects with

other assimilation or incorporation processes.

We need to bring these different forms and processes of immigrant integration

together. An argument can be made that immigrants civic and political integration is central

to contemporary nation-building efforts as Western nations trying to re-craft self-

understandings in an era of global migration, international trade and arguably reduced

sovereignty. Civic conceptions of national unity are necessarily thinner than ethnic ones

because they do not involve strong, exclusive appeals to specific cultural or religious

customs. The common bonds of civic citizenship must instead come from elsewhere.

Much has been made lately about immigrants adoption of common civic values. Civic

citizenship consequently becomes a debate about the right values, rather that one about

participation and engagement. Values such as liberal tolerance are undoubtedly important,

but it is unclear what the best way of communicating such values are. The discussion here is

animated by the belief that participation and engagement are probably more fruitful ways to

reinforce the ideals of civic citizenship than imposing or teach them in a unidirectional

way, where those of the majority are presumed to have civic virtue while those of foreign

birth are presumed to lack it.

Political integration, be it through assimilation or incorporation, is also important

because the dangers of failed integration are high. If reactive ethnicity is a useful way to

understand some immigrant and ethnic mobilization, the failure to integrate immigrants into

politics could lead to the type of riots seen in the Paris suburbs in fall 2005. Multiculturalism

policies also need to be embedded in an understanding of immigrants as future members of

society, rather than as temporary workers or guest workers. Applied to those not considered

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 33
future citizens, multiculturalism has the potential to exacerbate segregation and exclusion. In

these cases, multiculturalism becomes a thinly disguised attempt by receiving states to keep

foreign workers apart from mainstream society, as was arguably the case in Germany

through to the 1990s and in the early days of Dutch multiculturalism policy.

Judgments about multiculturalisms failure have been made while most of the

children of the immigrants who migrated to Europe or North America in the 1960s, 70s and

80s are still young adults or barely middle aged; the third generation is still in school or not

yet born. The processes of assimilation based on the experiences of European immigrants

in the United States generally took three or more generations to discern. In a world where

we are increasingly used to instant information, scholars and policy makers probably need to

take the long view of integration. The line of reasoning presented here suggests that the

European turn away from multiculturalism may be too hasty, and that the United States

should move away from an exclusive focus on border control to also address internal

integration policies.

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1 There is a certain irony in the focus on immigrants. Much of the early theorizing of
multiculturalism came from Canadian thinkers who balanced three sorts of minority claims, those of
aboriginal peoples, those of longstanding incorporated nations such as the Quebecois, and those of
migrant-origin populations. Indeed, the multiculturalism of Canadians Will Kymlicka and Charles
Taylor gives greater moral weight to aboriginal and internal national minorities claims than those of
immigrants. However, the discourse on multiculturalism, in Canada and in continental Europe, has
almost exclusively focused on immigrants (Joppke 2004).
2For example, two recent, well-regarded overviews of immigrant assimilation in the United States, by
Alba & Nee (2003) and Bean & Stevens (2003), do not address political or civic incorporation, nor
does the review of the assimilation literature undertaken by Waters & Jimnez (2005).
3There is some evidence that this is changing due to a new wave of young political scientists, often
with immigrant backgrounds themselves. See, for example, recently books by Garca-Bedolla 2005,
Ramakrishnan 2005, and Wong 2006.
4Interestingly, economic integrationprobably the domain of primary interest to contemporary
sociologistsdoes not figure among the seven.
5 An alternative measure by Koopmans, Statham, Giugni and Passy (2005:51-71) examines five
indicators: cultural requirements for naturalization; religious rights outside of public institutions,
especially for Islam; cultural rights within institutions; institutions for political representation; and
affirmative action. Of the five European countries they consider, the Netherlands ranks as the most
multicultural, Great Britain and possibly post-2000 Germany rank in the middle, and France and
Switzerland are the least multicultural.
6 Despite claims by some that state-based citizenship is increasingly eclipsed by postnational
citizenship and rights (Baubck 2005; Soysal 1994), I focus on formal politics in the belief that
national politics continue to have significant effects for immigrants everyday lives, both as
immigrants and as residents who use services, pay taxes and participate in public institutions such as
schools, etc. However, one could argue that a full understanding of immigrants political
incorporation must also look at contentious politics, such as holding demonstrations, making public
claims, etc. This is especially relevant for populations, such as immigrants, that include substantial
numbers of non-citizens shut out of electoral politics (Ramakrishnan & Bloemraad forthcoming).
This is the tact taken by Koopmans and colleagues (2005) in their study of claim-making in national
newspapers. As I discuss further below, their empirical findings are largely complementary to mine,
though the conclusions they draw differ from mine.
7In January 2006, with the election of a minority Conservative government to replace the previous
Liberal majority, 41 foreign-born MPs were elected out of a total of 308 seats.
8 This model of structured mobilizationwhere state interventionist policy facilitates immigrants
political integrationappears to apply equally well to the Dutch case. Research on Turkish
immigrants in Amsterdam suggests that local multiculturalism policies helped found more
interconnected ethnic organizations than was the case in Berlin. These organizations and their elites
subsequently facilitated Turks penetration into elected politics (Berger & Vermeulen forthcoming).
Even Ruud Koopmans and associates, who offer a relatively pessimistic analysis of multiculturalism
in the Netherlands, find that migrant claims-making in the Netherlands is among the least
confrontational in Europe, largely eschewing the violence seen in some other countries (2005:137-8).

WorkingDraftpleasedonotcite. 40
Table 1: Degree of Multiculturalism and Immigrant Political Integration, circa 2001

Country No. foreign-born % f-b in population* % f-b with citizenship Rep. index in natl legis.**
Strong m/c
Australia 4,003,000 23.0 68.4 .45
Canada 5,717,000 19.0 72.6 .78

Moderate m/c
Belgium 1,098,000 9.3 40.8
Netherlands 1,615,000 10.1 65.0 .72
Sweden 1,078,000 12.0 62.5
United Kingdom 4,897,000 8.3 47.2 .60
United States 34,635,000 11.1 46.4 .17

Weak m/c
Austria 1,002,000 12.5 40.7
Denmark 361,000 6.8 40.3
France 5,868,000 7.4 53.1 .59
Ireland 396,000 10.4 45.2
Norway 334,000 6.7 47.6
* Where possible, the figures for foreign-born exclude citizens born abroad (e.g., to diplomats or military personnel serving overseas).
** I focus on the popularly elected chamber of the national legislature, i.e., House of Commons for Canada and the UK, House of Representatives for the US,
French National Assembly and the Dutch Second Chamber. Data for Canada, Netherlands and the United States for 2000/02; data for other countries from 2006.
Sources: Foreign-born and citizenship data: OECD/SOPEMI 2004: 142-143, 284; Migration Policy Institute Data Hub. Representative data: Canada/US -
Bloemraad 2006: 60-61; NL - Entzinger 2003: 66; Aus., UK, FR Adams 2007: 75.