Rethinking 'Us' & 'Them': Integration and Diversity in Europe

30 Oct 2017, 11:56 PM
Chapters 4 › Unit 4: What roles do citizenship and participation play in integration? View instructions Hide instructions

What roles do citizenship and participation play in integration?

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Photo: © Panos Georgiou

Tell us: What roles do citizenship and participation play in integration?

In Chapter 4, we've taken a look at some of the more tangible parts of the journey from 'foreigner' to citizen: naturalization, participation, and which policies and attitudes matter towards making someone feel as though they belong. We imagine that many of you have personal experiences with these topics or opinions on how they should be handled for those coming to your countries. We'd love for you to share them with the 'Us' & 'Them' course community here!

Here are some guiding questions to draw from:
- How do you define 'diversity' and how did you 'learn it' (or how do you think you still need to learn it?)
- What types of major divides or cleavages do you most see in your society? Are these along the lines of immigrant vs. native or other groups?
- How easy or hard do you think it should be for immigrants or refugees to gain citizenship of their new country? Do you think people should be able to maintain dual citizenship or do you see this as problematic for integration?
- What is one thing that you find especially important to feeling like you belong to your society (or what do you think it would be if you moved to a new place)?

Now what?
Click 'Start in Journal', and fill out the entry. How you do this is up to you: You can use just words, or add pictures or links to articles or videos to highlight your point!

Is this journal assignment required?
No! Nothing in our course is 'required', and there are no grades, but we encourage you to reflect on these topics and share if you feel comfortable, so that others in the course can benefit from your experiences.

Tips on Making Diversity Great Again


Tips on Making Diversity Great Again

I will make myself a bit of auto-promotion, and share with you that I published this article as well on my blog:

With this article I would like to reflect on the issue of diversity. Is it really cherished in our societies? What are our owns attitudes, and how much are they integral? Is what we think, how we act and how we feel really the same?

The article will be mainly focused on the part of cultural diversity, but I would like to underline that when we talk about diversity, it is not only about us and them in relation to migrants and refugees, it is not only about the cultural part like belonging to cultural and linguistic minority, or even having parent(s) who were born in the country different that you are living right now. For me talking about diversity should be talking about acceptance and inclusion of all the minority groups, or better say everyone that when you get in contact with you feel this ¨strange¨ feeling, because this person is different. Giving an example a new kid is coming to your class, and you can easily notice that has some mental deficiency. During the breaks you are avoiding to be with him or her alone, since you don´t know what to say, and you are afraid that you might say something inappropriate. I am talking about this ¨strange¨ feeling, that it does not need to be on purpose, but it exists. So let´s talk diversity!

Formal recognition of humans – aka why a person born is Spain needs to have citizenship of the country they have never been to?

If we talk about diversity one of it´s elements (and a very basic one) is acceptance, and sense of belonging. And if we talk about the formal recognition it can give this sense of belonging, it can empower people to feel equal, and to make them a bit less less-privileged. And here I talk about the right to citizenship, right to have a passport of the country you are living in. And I guess there might be some people who might say, and not in all the cases people wants to have a passport of the country they are living in. I am an example, I have a Polish passport and I do live in Spain. And I don´t care.
I remember the cases of young people whose parents migrated when they were very little or who were already born in Spain. I remember the moment when they were dreaming about their future, and were saying about the job as a public servant they would like to do, and then they told me it will never happen since they need citizenship for that. I really don´t understand why they don´t have it?

And for many people it might not be important, well for those who has more privileges I guess. But I can really imagine how much of self-esteem and empowerment can the stupid paper call passport have on the young people. Don´t you think?

Integrity when we do diversity

First what is integrity? – it can be described as a combination of 3 elements – what do you think, how do you feel and what do you do, that needs to be coherent. If you think you should participate in the volunteering activity with the association of Down syndrome, because you think it will look great on photos and I your resume, it is not the integrity. If you go out with your friends, and it happened to be invited their friend from Senegal, and you are feeling uncomfortable, because you don´t know how to treat him, and what to talk about, it is not integrity.

Diversity it is something that we need to learn, and not only on the cognitive way. Of course if we are there that we understand the importance of diversity this is a first and important step, but in my opinion we should keep learning diversity until we will reach full integrity. And this means for me till the moment we will challenge our emotions, and we will be able to know how to be ourselves, and how not to see other people as different.

Good luck!

Us v. Them instead of WE

Us and them, is a bit like Spain and Catalunya. I remember a Christmas eve speech of the King of Spain (the previous one), who was talking about the Spanish unity and the amazing future that the country has. And then he was referring to Cataluyna, as the important part of Spain, but then looking on the formulation of his sentences there was always Spain and Catalunya, never as we. And this simple think if it is being repeated many times, is becoming normalized. I was very surprised that I was the only person who noticed it. Why the King of Spain needs to talk about the taxes and always mention Spain and Catalunya? Wasn´t it the same?

And it is similar if we talk about diversity. Us and Them. There is always this tendency to look for the differences, and sometimes as well for similarities, but always from two different perspectives. And we would never be able to talk about really cherishing diversity if we will see the society as 2,3,4, different groups. We need to learn how to se WE!

Why the history and culture is important only when we talk about migrants?

It is not very scientific, but I have this feeling that people are becoming more interested in their country culture and history much more when the discuss the topic of migrants or refugees. And I am not talking only about the case of national dances, that they sound so important but 80% of the society does not know how to dance them.

I am talking simply about the fact that we start to speak strongly about OUR culture, when we talk about migrants and their possibilities to integrate. And my issue is if this OUR culture is something that we really do care about? Isn´t it a bit of hypocorism taking that Muslims (and here we refer only to those who follow halal diet) that they should tray Jamón serrano (a type of ham from pigs), when your favorite restaurant is a Japanese?

And looking at it from a bit different angle, can we really play the history card when we talk about diversity? Meaning can we really refer that we are a nation, because we have our shared history, and that our gran, gran, gran parents were… bla bla bla. And how much back we need to move to actually be recognized that yes we share a common history?

So if we talk about the tips, for me it will be reflecting on those issues, and slowly, step by step introducing them into our lives.


Thank you for sharing your article on this topic, Aga, and for giving us all some food for thought. Your point about a shared history and the emptiness of the "national culture" often cited in debates is helpful to re-frame discussions on us. vs. them along cultural lines.

about 1 year ago

Thanks a lot for the comment! I still don´t understand why the concept of ¨national culture¨ is still being so much present everywhere

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