Immigration, citizenship, and the need for integration

By Ricardo Phillips,2014-04-16 21:52
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Immigration, citizenship, and the need for integration

Christian Joppke

Immigration, citizenship, and the need for integration

    One of the “political needs” created by immigration is that for “integration”. A classic

    mechanism of integration in the modern state is citizenship, understood as shared beliefs and identities that tie the members of society into a collectivity. This paper investigates what kind of citizenship identities European states display and further in their recent citizenship and integration campaigns toward immigrants and ethnic minorities. It is argued that citizenship identities are increasingly universalistic, which is paradoxical because what states have in common can impossibly lend distinctness to them and bind immigrants to this and not any state.

The question whose “political needs” are helped or harmed by immigration and the

    policies that enable such immigration can be answered in many ways. At a minimum, answers to this question will fall out differently depending on the definition of “political”

    that guides them. A modern understanding of politics, in which the latter deals with domestic interest conflict (“who gets what, when, and how”, to quote Lasswell‟s famous definition), will yield an answer that focuses on how immigration variously benefits or harms the many groups and sectors that make up a complex society, and especially how immigration may divide and realign the political parties as the main interest mediators and aggregators in society.

    By contrast, a classic understanding of politics, according to which the latter deals with the definition and implementation of the common good, will yield an answer that looks at society as totality, and how its overall stability and integrity is affected by immigration. This is the variant of political need that I wish to explore in this paper.

    From the point of view of society as totality, immigration raises the problem of “integration”. What integrates society, and why there is order and not chaos, is one of the


    main questions of political theory since Hobbes, and of social theory since Durkheim. It is interesting that contemporary discussions of integration are oblivious of this legacy of the “integration” concept (an exception is Favell 2001), which was initially developed

    th intra-societal religious strife (Hobbes) and along the very different experiences of 17

    th19 industrialization (Durkheim) in Europe. Today, the concept of “integration” takes for

    granted that domestic integration exists, but that it is put to the test, from the outside, by the arrival of newcomers. This is, in many ways, a skewed and alarmist perspective, because--sociologically speakingthe non-integrated immigrant, short of being stranded

    like Robinson, is impossible. The perspective that is taken in today‟s immigrant-related

    integration discourse is that of the political system, or rather: of the nation-state, which integrates people not functionally and role-specific, but as entire persons that are either members of this or of that nation-state, but not of two or more simultaneously. In Niklas Luhmann‟s terminology, the world‟s nation-states are segmentarily differentiated (that is,

    divided into mutually exclusive like-units, subsuming complete individuals), while most other sectors in society are functionally differentiated (that is, divided into mutually dependent non-like units, subsuming people only under a specific aspect, who are therefore participating in multiple systems at the same time). From this anomaly stems much of the specificity of the “integration” discourse surrounding immigrants. It also reveals that “integration,all liberal elite rhetoric notwithstanding, at heart means

    “assimilation”, in the sense of neutralizing a perceived fundamental threat to the stability and integrity of society that is presumed to exist before the immigrant sets foot in it.

     A cursory look at political debates across immigrant-receiving states will confirm that perhaps the main “political need” (in the sense defined above) generated by


    immigration is a need for integration. How it is responded to, however, varies widely. The United States, qua state, decided not to respond, and to leave the process of integration to the fabulously absorptive and time-tested self-regulatory powers of society, above all under-regulated labor markets and mass culture. Its northern neighbor, Canada, perpetually ignored down south, by contrast, makes integration a matter of state policy, in terms of official multiculturalism. European states, which are the focus of this paper, share the Canadian penchant for making immigrant integration a matter of explicit state policy, though increasingly in other than multicultural terms.

     A central mechanism in states‟ integration policies is citizenshipin this residual

    sense even the U.S. has an integration policy, as it has a policy and programs framing the acquisition of citizenship by newcomers (though one that is much less successful than the Canadian one; see Bloemraad 2006). The centrality of citizenship for integration is not by accident, because among the many things that “citizenship” may mean, including formal

    state membership and the rights attached to such membership, has always been a reference to the unity and identity of a state society (for an overview of the dimensions of citizenship, see Joppke 2007a). In recent years, European states in particular have sought to reinvigorate centrist citizenship identities as an antidote to centrifugal immigrant societies. These citizenship and integration campaigns are the subject of this paper. But less than in their effects, I am interested in the contents of these campaigns, in particular what kinds of unity and identity are furthered by them. I argue that citizenship and integration campaigns are caught in the paradox of universalism: they aim at integrating immigrants into a particular society that is different here from there, but they can do so only in a universalistic diction that dodges the particularism that they aim at. The reason


    for this is the exhaustion of nation and nationalism in Western Europe, at least as a state project, and an increasing recourse to liberal self-definitions. However, liberal identities may still be exclusive, as certain policies surrounding Muslim immigrants and ethnics in Europe show.

     In the first part of this paper, I suggest that “political liberalism”, more than being

    a philosophical stance, adequately delineates the constraints for contemporary European states‟ citizenship and integration campaigns toward immigrants. The content of some of

    these campaigns, in particular the paradox of universalism in which they become caught, is investigated in part two. I conclude with reflections on liberalism as identity, which is furthered by these campaigns, and which—like any “identity”—has exclusive


    I Political Liberalism

    At theoretical level, the problem of unity and integration in a liberal society has been neatly formulated in John Rawls‟ idea of political liberalism. If one stipulates that in a liberal society the individual is free to choose the ends of her actions, the state has to remain neutral about competing conceptions of the good life (“comprehensive doctrines”

    in Rawls‟ terminology) that inform such choices. Social unity then cannot derive from a consensus on some conception of the good; in any society there will be a multiplicity of conflicting and incommensurable conceptions of the good. Instead, social unity and stability can only derive from an “overlapping consensus” on principles of justice, the first and foremost of which is that “each person has an equal right to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic rights and liberties” (Rawls 1985:227). Such an “overlapping


    consensus”, Rawls claims, can in turn be derived from the substantive moral or religious doctrines that people may adhere to, as long as these doctrines (or the people that hold

    ithem) are “reasonable”. There is an evolution within Rawls‟ thinking about the nature of liberalism undergirding this theory, ethical and grounded in a metaphysical conception of the person (as “autonomous” or “individualistic”) (Rawls 1971), or political and independent of any such conception of the person (Rawls 1993). And communitarian critics have pointed to the difficulties of the political version of liberalism, which forces the individual to abstract from her moral and religious views for the purposes of public life, in which she is supposed to embrace the ethereal “ideal of public reason” (Rawls) (see Sandel 1994). But one may respond to this that some form of “public reason” or “transcendence” (Schnapper 2006) is precisely the abstraction that modern citizenship, as

    the space where “strangers can become associates” (U.Preuss), is based upon—political

    as against ethical liberalism may exacerbate, it does not create this abstraction. And, importantly, the neutrality mandate of the state applies to both versions of liberalism. With it one has to abandon the view that nation or nationalism could integrate a liberal society: “(T)he hope of political community must indeed be abandoned, if by such a community we mean a political society united in affirming a general and comprehensive doctrine. This possibility is excluded by the fact of pluralism together with the rejection of the oppressive use of state power to overcome it” (Rawls, 1987:10). This is another way of saying that social unity in a liberal society cannot derive from the “good” of

    nation and nationalism, but only from a consensus on the “rights” that should accrue to each individual.


     Jürgen Habermas (1987) has formulated the same idea in terms of “constitutional patriotism” (see also the excellent account by Müller 2006). It shares the Rawlsian

    divorce between culture and politics, arguing that the social bond in a liberal-democratic state should be “juridicial, moral and political, rather than cultural, geographical and historical” (quoted in Laborde, 2002:593). “Constitutional patriotism” holds that the ultimate motives for attachment to a political community are universalistic and not particularistic: in the last instance, one sticks to it because its values, goals, and outlook are rationally justifiable, not because they are contingently what they are. The usual riposte against “abstract” and “bloodless” constitutional patriotism forgets that it was born in a specific historical context, the German Historians‟ Struggle of the 1980s, in which Habermas defended the historical singularity of the Holocaust as the revolving axis of German postwar identity. In this particular context, any other position would exculpate the loyalty to the racist Volksgemeinschaft. In this respect Habermas could effortlessly claim that “constitutional patriotism (must be) situated in the historical context of a nation of citizens in a way that (it) link(s) up with those citizens‟ motives and attitudes” (quoted in Lacroix, 2002:949f). One could formulate this as a paradox: the German particularism is to be condemned to universalism because of its (or rather, the Jewish peoples‟) brutal annihilation by the Nazi regime.

     However you call it, “overlapping consensus in a political conception of justice” (Rawls 1987:9) or “constitutional patriotism” (Habermas), the idea is that in a liberal society the ties that bind can only be thin and procedural, not thick and substantive. Otherwise individuals could not be free. A critic of the “unencumbered self” stipulated by the procedural liberalism of Rawls has crisply articulated the necessary link between state


    neutrality and individual freedom: “It is precisely because we are free and independent selves, capable of choosing our own ends, that we need a framework of rights that is neutral among ends” (Sandel, 1994:1769).

     However, this is dire advice for the attempts of contemporary states to foster integration and unity in diverse societies. The shortcoming of procedural liberalism has been neatly identified by a variety of “civic nationalists”, who point to its incapacity to

    ii For instance, Will Kymlicka, motivate a preference for “this” over “that” collectivity.

    advocate of the most concise and influential theory of minority rights, admits that “social unity” in a multiethnic state is a “valid concern” (1995:173). But to achieve it “shared political values” are not enough. Kymlicka points to the arresting example of Quebec. In the very moment that political values have converged across Canada, Quebec, defined by the French Fact, came to insist ever more stridently on its independence, close to the point of seceding from Anglophone Canada. Kymlicka rightly concludes that social unity must consist of more than “shared political values”; it requires a “shared identity”, a “communality of history, language, and maybe religion”, that is, “the things exactly not shared in a multination state” (p.188f). Rogers Smith‟s (2003) argument that the bonds of

    societies ultimately rest on “stories of peoplehood” expresses the same objection to procedural liberalism.

     Identity is what does not happen twice in the world. Eisenstadt and Giesen (1995:75) depicted it as “the center, the present, the subject”, which lie exactly “in between” the dichotomous distinctions of “left and right”, “past and present”, “God and the world”, by means of which human beings construct their worlds. From this point of view, the notion of collective identity has to be categorically distinguished from that of


rule of law (rather than both being fused, as in “political liberalism” or “constitutional

    iii patriotism”), identity setting the boundary within which the law can be effective.

     Kymlicka‟s case against procedural liberalism‟s claim that universalism could provide social unity, is compelling. There are, indeed, strong empirical reasons to believe that there is “the need for a national culture…that supplies the integrative forces that binds modern societies together”, and it is “disingenuous” to disguise the fact that “national culture” is always “the achievement of particular groups of people acting over

    determinate periods of time”, and thus inherently particularistic (Kumar 2007:17, 23). However, as the following discussion of states‟ integration and unity campaigns toward immigrants shall demonstrate, the possibilities of states to enact such particularism are tightly limited, essentially by rules of non-discrimination and a positive evaluation of diversity. Accordingly, the actual content of the citizenship identities fostered by the state resembles much more closely the precepts of “constitutional patriotism” or “political liberalism” than those of a particular Dutch or British or German national culture.

    II Contemporary Citizenship and Integration Campaigns

    If contemporary states campaign for a strengthened sense of citizenship, this usually has two different thrusts. One is the neoliberal campaign to devolve responsibility for welfare and subsistence from the state to the individual and to her voluntary engagements in civil society. In Britain, for instance, “active citizenship” was discovered in the very moment

    that Margaret Thatcher had pronounced that there “is no such thing as society”—by

    which she meant national society, in anticipation of things to come. Accordingly, the 1990 report of the House of Commons Commission on Citizenship, Encouraging


    Citizenship, envisioned citizenship as “voluntary contributions by individual citizens to the common good” (House of Commons, 1990:8). Such citizenship is unrelated to its bounded natureit does not demarcate “us” from “them”; instead, it seeks an internal

    rebalancing of citizenship from rights to duties, and devolving responsibilities from the welfare state to the individual. Once “globalization” set in, this neoliberal citizenship could easily be married with cosmopolitan themes. Katheryne Mitchell (2003), for instance, identified the emergence of neoliberal-cum-cosmopolitan citizenship in revamped public school curricula in three major Anglo-Saxon countries, where there has been a change of emphasis from the production of community-minded “national” or

    “multicultural” citizens toward “strategic cosmopolitans,” whose technical skills are essential for mastering the exigencies of global competition. Under the logo of a “Nation at Risk”, for having “neglected educational quality in the name of equality” (ibid., p.398), the United States made the beginning in the early 1980s, with a reorientation from social studies toward math, science, and reading. A similar reorientation of public education and turn toward individual “choice”, “excellence”, and “accountability” occurred in Canada and Britain in the late 1980s.

     Since the late 1990s, and with a rather opposite thrust, a second type of statist citizenship campaign moved to the fore, one that focuses on citizenship as a force of social unity and integration. While the neoliberal theme of unburdening the state from costly welfare provision and of an internal rebalancing of the rights and duties of citizenship is still in it, the focus of integrationist citizenship campaigns is more on citizenship‟s bounded nature. If you will, neoliberal citizenship looks at society as a society of natives; integrationist citizenship looks at society as one of immigrants and


    ethnic minorities, who are to be made part of “us”. This invites a reflection on who this “us” is, and such reflection is inevitably colored by historically varying understandings of citizenship. In Britain, for example, integrationist citizenship campaigns are conducted against the backdrop of a historically thin sense of citizenshipas already the 1990

    Commission on Citizenship put it, “(a)n immediate difficulty facing us is that in our society the term „citizenship‟ is an unfamiliar notion” (House of Commons 1990:3). Accordingly, in Britain “citizenship” always figures as something that is not yet. The

    starting point of the 1998 Crick Commission, mandated with developing a citizenship curriculum for public schools, was “worrying levels of apathy, ignorance and cynicism about public life” (Crick Commission 1998:8). This was to be countered by the “teaching

    of democracy in schools” to instill “social and moral responsibility” (a common theme with Encouraging Citizenship), “community involvement”, and “political literacy”. In a

    second, typically British theme, this attempt to “restore a sense of common citizenship” is

    tightly limited by respecting “the plurality of nations, cultures, ethnic identities and religions long found in the United Kingdom” (ibid., 17).

     A comparison of new programs for teaching citizenship in schools, which were simultaneously introduced in France and England in the late 1990s, found that in the Crick Commission report there was “no reference to national symbols such as the Queen, the national flag and the national anthem”, and that it was accordingly not “prescriptive of a national identity” (Osler and Starkey 2004:12). By contrast, in France there was a “clear sense of national identity associated with the Republic” (p.23), along with an unabashed imposition of national symbols to be known by students, such as the Phrygian hat, Marianne, flag, national motto, and national anthem. However, such particularism


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