Home Sociology Integration Processes and Policies in Europe
The Politics of the State and Nation
Most analysis has drawn on the domestic political situation in the country of origin to explain why sending countries reach out to their emigrants. One argument is that the degree of democratization and political competition in the homeland determine the extent to which this competition spills over into the transnational realm. To illustrate, during processes of democratization and increased political competition, political parties may vie for the diaspora's support. For instance, political parties believing themselves to have support among emigrants might push for the extension of dual citizenship and political rights, as happened in Mexico and the Dominican Republic (M. P. Smith 2003a; Itzigsohn 2014; Rhodes and Harutyunyan 2010). This argument is complicated by the fact that some emigrant states, albeit democratic, tend to largely ignore their emigrants; and emigrant states that are not democracies, or at least not experiencing a linear process of democratization or political liberalization, have been known to reach out to their emigrant populations. In the case of the latter, the desire for extra-territorial control of citizens and civil society has been identified as a core incentive (R. C. Smith 2003b; Østergaard-Nielsen 2012). Outreach policies under Mussolini's fascist regime were considered part of an overall strategy to keep dissident mobilization in check (R. C. Smith 2003b; Lafleur 2012). With these policies, Italy extended a range of political rights (including statesponsored return tickets to vote in homeland elections) and social and cultural rights (e.g., Italian schools abroad and the organization of emigrant associations).
A second line of argument suggests that sending state outreach policies are shaped by forms of nationhood and processes of nation-building in the country of origin (Boccagni 2014). This view is especially related to the extension of citizenship to overseas nationals. One hypothesis in this regard is that an understanding of the nation based on ethnic rather than territorial criteria would render emigration states more likely to reach out to and include their nationals abroad in what has been termed a process of re-ethnicization of citizenship (Joppke 2003). Such a pathdependent approach to understanding policy outcomes as dependent on types of civic or ethnic national models of citizenship has, however, been criticized as unable to explain why states shift their policies towards emigrants (and immigrants). As argued by Bauböck (2013, xv), we should see understandings of nationhood not as independent variables but as 'discourses through which states legitimate their policies that may be driven by quite different motives'. Indeed, a more constructivist approach to the complex relationship between homeland narratives of the nation and those of emigrants has been highlighted in recent work on sending country policies (Collyer 2013; Boccagni 2014). It could be added that this type of research requires an analysis that distinguishes which set of political actors in the sending countries frames their support or opposition to outreach policies towards emigrants. For instance, Joppke (2003) in an analysis of three EU member states—Spain, France, and Italy—demonstrates that centre right to extreme right wing parties have pushed for a more inclusive approach to emigrant citizenship while maintaining a restrictive line towards immigrant naturalization criteria.
A further perspective pertaining to the political characteristics of the country of origin emphasizes the type of political and economic governance (Ragazzi 2014; Gamlen 2008; Gamlen et al. 2013). According to Ragazzi (2014), there is a relationship between the political-economic model of a state and the development of state policies. The more closed an economy is (in foreign trade and control of the financial system) the more closed its attitude towards emigrants will be. More open (neoliberal) states, will be more inclusive. In an analysis of 35 countries, Ragazzi (ibid.) concludes that this best explains the development of diaspora policies.
A look at the politics underlying policies in countries of origin emphasizes that these policies are also the product of domestic political power configurations, including not only political parties but also interest organizations and emigrants in their powerbase. Comparative studies examining the roles of these actors could further clarify how emigrant policies relate back not just to the broader characteristics of the political system but also to negotiation and contestation between the main political actors in the country of origin.
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