Home Sociology Integration Processes and Policies in Europe
Migrant Organizations, NGOs, and Local Governments
Transnational studies also demonstrate that more and more relations are developing between countries of settlement and countries of origin at the local level, through local authorities on both sides and through immigrant organizations. These studies have found that immigrants identify more easily with the local level and that local governments present themselves as more open to migrants' transnational affiliations. Van Ewijk and Nijenhuis, in Chap. 8, describe the efforts of local authorities to promote engagement of migrants in international cooperation projects as a means of positively impacting their integration in destination societies. This perspective renders the concept of integration rather participatory with an important entrepreneurial component, which supposedly has a social function and promotes social cohesion at the local level.
Van Ewijk and Nijenhuis also point to the mushrooming numbers of codevelopment programmes, aimed at linking immigrants and immigrant organizations with hometowns in origin countries for the purpose of development projects. These again seem clearly related to and embedded in integration policies at the local level. While the literature seems to confirm a positive correlation between engagement in international exchange programmes and becoming more active in the receiving society, the authors also conclude that the extent and nature of local-to-local projects and relationships are very much dependent on policies and available funding opportunities in destination countries.
Governments of Origin Countries
Sending countries have increasingly developed policies to bond with their citizens abroad. Østergaard-Nielsen (Chap. 9) suggests that such policies involve the economic/socio-economic, the political, and the cultural/religious dimensions, often in combination. Motivations of origin-country governments for such activities may vary but the integration of their citizens in the country of settlement can ultimately only be a topic if the interests of the country of origin are served through its migrants. The specific content of what integration then should mean was well expressed by Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan, who during a visit in Germany called for a 'better integration of Turks in Germany', meaning essentially better economic opportunities 'but not assimilation'. These workers should, he said, continue to be 'ambassadors for Turkey', to speak Turkish, to vote for him as the new President of Turkey, to be good Muslims, and to contribute to the economic development of Turkey.
While the strengthening of upward social mobility of emigrants in their countries of residence is usually interpreted as a win-win scenario for both sending countries and immigrants, it is still difficult to assess the exact impact of sending country policies on both migrant transnationality and migrant processes of settlement. First, it is difficult to determine to what extent emigrant state efforts to bond with their nonresident citizens are directly responsible for migrant transnational practices related to their country of origin. Second, it is difficult to determine the real impact of these policies on immigrants' integration in the societies of settlement. In both respects, Østergaard-Nielsen (Chap. 9 in this volume) notes that emigrants and diasporas may not immediately respond to sending countries' outreach. Moreover, she observes, it remains to be seen whether and to what extent European governments actually do move away from the zero-sum discourse and securitization optic on migrant transnationality towards the more integrated three-way approach envisioned by the European Commission.
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