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

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.

Some Thoughts on the Role of Citizenship in Integration

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It goes without saying that the attribution of nationality can be an integration tool. Facilitating naturalisation diminishes the gap between the rights of citizens and long-term resident immigrants and can open up a fuller range of opportunities for participation. If the introductory programmes could be defined as the starting point for integration, naturalisation and gaining citizenship could be seen as the end product of the process. In some countries naturalisation is considered the result and ultimate proof of the integration of immigrants. However, access to nationality is not a panacea for challenges of the integration process. Second- and third-generation immigrants who are citizens may still experience discrimination and lack a feeling of belonging. Therefore, the focus should also be on other opportunities for participation, although a continued trend towards facilitated naturalisation is desirable.

As far as I know by now, in most European countries, the normal path towards legal integration involves a gradual consolidation of status and an extension of rights in several stages over a number of years; quick naturalisation is not the common case. However, continuous immigration and the presence of a growing group of permanently residing non-nationals have led many governments to change their naturalisation regulations, often making acquisition of nationality easier. According to the Handbook on Integration for Policymakers and Practitioners (2004), narrowing the gap between the rights of citizens and non-citizens would make the choice for naturalisation less a strategy to achieve legal security and more a positive expression of a change in political identity. Extending electoral rights and making naturalisation easier would be complementary strategies, I guess.

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