Home Political science Development Centre Studies Tackling the Policy Challenges of Migration : Regulation, Integration, Development.
Why traditional models of integration do not apply in the South
As pointed out by Sadiq (2009), the global understanding of citizenship is based "overwhelmingly on the states of Western Europe and North America. In these states the government's power to regulate entry and settlement is unquestioned." The same can be said of immigrant integration. The notion of integration that most policy makers understand is relatively concrete, one where immigrants stay permanently, learn the language and eventually their measurable socio-economic statuses (wages, types of jobs, education, school quality, consumer goods) converge to match those of the locally born.
In this respect, Figure 3.3 displays a 2x2 typology of integration models based on two cornerstones of societal living: links with members of the community of origin (in the country of immigration) and incorporation into the host society.
Figure 3.3. A typology of integration models
Marginalisation is frequent both in the North and the South. It occurs when immigrants fail to integrate into the host society at the same time as they break links with fellow-countrymen. This is precisely the situation that leads to increased vulnerability and generates high costs for society.
At the other end is transnationalism, which refers to immigrants perfectly incorporated into the host society, while also maintaining strong links with their community of origin, both in sending and receiving countries. Transnationalism is a growing theme for migration research in the North (Guarnizo, 2003; IMISCOE, 2010; 0stergaard-Nielsen, 2003). But even though the idea behind transnationalism has existed for centuries, especially in the South where seasonal circular migration constitutes a lifestyle, it is an ideal type whose conditions are difficult to fulfil.
The two other cases correspond to intermediate situations, but also to two very different models of integration, which dominate discussions in the North. In the assimilation model, a significant degree of cultural adaptation by immigrants is assumed. In the multiculturalism approach, the capacity of a community to structure collective life prevails. The multicultural character of society is alleged to be reinforced by mutual understanding between various sub-communities in the country. But neither really fits the realities of the South.
Limits of the assimilation model
Models that aim for the assimilation of immigrants, as in continental Europe, are not very adapted to societies in the South, for two reasons. First, migration from nearby countries is more prevalent in the South (neighbourhood effect) and second, the overall economic and social climate is often dire for both migrants and the locally born (low relative deprivation).
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