Home Sociology Integration Processes and Policies in Europe
The Concept of Integration in Policies
The development of the concept of integration in policies (i.e., the specific meaning that is given explicitly or implicitly to integration in policy formulation and practice) must be understood against the backdrop of immigration's framing in Europe. Here again, the transcontinental comparison between Europe and North America accentuates the differences. While the USA and Canada define themselves as countries built by immigration and immigrants, North-Western European countries in the post-war period did exactly the opposite. Their guest worker policies set out to attract hands for their booming economies but on a temporary basis, ideally without guest workers' families and with an explicit expectation of return. From this perspective, there was no need for integration policies in the legal/political and cultural/religious sense, and integration in the socioeconomic dimension was pursued only as far and as long as required by immigrants' presumably temporary stay.
National Integration Policies
Since the 1970s, and particularly after labour migration stopped in the mid-1970s, a contradiction has grown between the facts of immigration and countries' selfperceived norm of not being a nation of immigration. In a few countries this tension led to comprehensive integration policies pertaining not only to the socioeconomic domain but also the political and cultural spheres. Sweden started such integration policies in 1975 (Hammar 2004) and the Netherlands followed suit in the early 1980s (Penninx 1981). However, most national governments in Europe maintained the illusion of immigrants' temporariness and return up to the late 1990s and 2000s, therefore confining themselves to ad hoc adaptive measures. In practice, this left the responsibility for integration to the local level of cities and to parties in civil society such as trade unions, churches, and welfare organizations (Penninx 2005).
When the increasingly politicized climate of the late 1990s and early 2000s pushed for the implementation of integration policies at the national level, the term integration started to acquire a different meaning. Whereas early policy conceptions such as those used in Sweden and the Netherlands had been rights-based, aimed at structural integration in the socioeconomic domains and framed in a liberal cultural atmosphere (later called “multicultural”), the new approach focused increasingly on the cultural dimension of integration as an obligation of immigrants, as cultural and value-based commonalities were thought to be essential for social cohesion. Acquisition of national citizenship—promoted in early Swedish and Dutch policies as an instrument that would facilitate structural integration—was increasingly redefined as the crown on a finalized process of cultural adaptation. This new cultural conception of integration policies went hand in hand with a redefinition of the identity of North-Western European countries. The claims and outcomes of discussions on the “identity” of receiving societies (as modern, liberal, democratic, laïcist, equal, enlightened, etc.) were translated into civic integration requirements for immigrants and civic integration courses of an assimilative nature. The latest development—compulsory preimmigration courses, such as those developed in the Netherlands—extends this logic even further. Under the label of integration, such courses actually function as instruments to make immigration more restrictive and selective (Guild et al. 2009).
The picture thus sketched is one that holds for the “first generation immigration countries” in North-Western Europe. As Doomernik and Bruquetas-Callejo assert in Chap. 4 of this volume, this North-Western European model became dominant and influential, as the immigration regulations of these countries became the formal standard for the EU and, through the acquis, the blueprint for all EU countries that acceded later. Similarly, these same countries tried in the 2000s to transpose their new national integration policies and civic integration courses to the European level as exemplary for other EU countries (Goeman 2012). Notwithstanding these pressures, quite different immigration and integration policies developed in practice in the “second generation immigration countries”, particularly in Southern Europe. Most immigration to those countries has been legalized ex-post by regularizations. Integration measures and policies have been initiated since the mid-1990s, predominantly at the local and regional levels, based on rights of access to important social services irrespective of one's immigrant status. Such local policies have aimed primarily at insertion of migrants into the labour market and were embedded in a liberal cultural atmosphere that has tended to use interculturality as a strategy.
Doomernik and Bruquetas-Callejo note a third model of integration policies emerging in the Central and East European member states. There the number of immigrants is still low and immigration and integration issues are not high political priorities. Mostly supported by European funding, civil society actors, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and local authorities have developed reception and integration activities while pressuring national governments to develop integration policies.
|< Prev||CONTENTS||Next >|