CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

1Based on two research projects funded by Belgium, this work links two recent developments in immigration and integration policy in Europe and North America: the advances made in implementing anti-discrimination policies and the tightening of entry and residence criteria for new arrivals. The book’s thesis is that these developments—apparently contradictory in that the first suggests greater openness to diversity, while the second signals greater wariness of it—are in fact part of one and the same process of constructing otherness, a process aimed to pressure individuals to conform to a certain number of common cultural values.

2In their introduction, the editors compare how integration policies have changed in Europe with change in North American policies, showing that while there has been some convergence—adoption of multiculturalism in the 1980s, followed by official distancing from it in the late 1990s—the same policies can be developed and applied differently depending on the country, its norms, or the weight of past government choices (‘path dependency’). This comparative framework, attentive not only to national but also regional variations, is maintained throughout the book’s 11 chapters by 19 authors on Europe and North America.

3The first part focuses on different countries’ policy responses to the diversity of their populations; specifically, multiculturalism, interculturalism, and antidiscrimination policies. The contributions here take a critical perspective, which they support using a variety of methods. John W. Berry uses the tools of social psychology to show that the established opposition between integration and multiculturalism is excessive when it comes to relations between groups; in his context—Canada—the two notions are ‘compatible and actually co-present’ in multiculturalism policy. Alejandro Portes and Eric Vickstrom use quantitative analysis to prove that Robert Putnam overestimated the role of minorities’ own social participation in their integration process in the United States because minorities’ maintaining of intragroup social relations ultimately has little effect on social cohesion in a society itself already highly diverse in many ways. In another analysis of the situation in the United States, David B. Oppenheimer, Swati Prakash, and Rachel Burns adopt a historical perspective on immigration to disprove the widely accepted notion that minority groups integrate into American society through a gradual, universal process, arguing that integration is instead a selective process that first left out African Americans, Chinese, and Japanese, and is now doing the same with Mexican Americans.

4Focusing on Quebec, François Crépeau points out the difficulties of implementing multiculturalism there, given the imperative of preserving the French language in the province, highlighting the need to rely on the judiciary since political measures seem so ill-adapted to handling this situation. Against the backdrop of Quebec this time, Emmanuelle Bribosia and Isabelle Rorive find that legal cases which ‘in Canada would have been dealt with under the principle of reasonable accommodation’ end up being defined in European courts as ‘conflicts between the norm of non-discrimination on the basis of gender and non-discrimination on the basis of religion’ (p. 19)—that is, an issue of competing anti-discrimination criteria. This leads them to note a paradox in European Union institutions: their task of preserving diversity among member-states leads them to show favour to majority groups within states to the detriment of the diversity of member-state minority groups. Last, Alejandra Alarcon Henriquez delivers a lesson from a psychology experiment conducted in Belgium, which found that what moves individuals to act when confronted with discrimination is not so much manifestations by other members of their group as the existence in their settlement country of a specific anti-discrimination institution and the expert opinions of its members.

5The second part focuses on the toughening of requirements for residence and naturalization in the European Union. In the first chapter, Yves Pascouau compares the integration criteria adopted by 17 member-states, as well as integration requirements for family reunification—less often imposed—in five of those states. In fact, different countries assess these criteria in quite different ways (either tests or contracts) and their emphasis too varies (language and/or citizenship). The following chapters each delve in greater detail into particular state cases. In Austria, explains Julia Mourão Permoser, the language requirement introduced in 2003 only became a real entry barrier in 2011 when it was reformed, raising ‘the hurdle’ without providing public funding for language courses. In the Netherlands, entry requirements were likewise tightened from 2004 to 2011; Saskia Bonjour explains this in terms of the country’s neoliberalist turn. But the gap between stated policy goals and the policies actually implemented is greater still in Italy, where integration criteria were designed to serve control purposes but were ultimately applied in the service of integration, according to authors Tiziana Caponio and Gaia Testore. Last, the case of Belgium shows how the notion of what integration should be varies by context. Ilke Adam, Marco Martiniello, and Andrea Rea demonstrate that in Flanders integration is understood in cultural terms, whereas in Wallonia and Brussels it is primarily a socioeconomic issue.

6The work diffuses a considerable number of research findings on how diversity is governed. Its wide range of methodological and disciplinary approaches, together with the country case studies, make us aware of the full complexity of the issue. And it is firmly rooted in the genealogy of studies on immigration and integration policies in Europe and North America, thus offering a needed update of the debate while illustrating the vitality of this research field.

Uploaded on on 26/02/2020
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