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Migrants and Political Mobilization/participation

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Once a neglected issue, the political organization and mobilization of migrants and ethnic minorities in Europe is now an emerging and promising area of research. Starting in the early 1990s, scholars sought to analyze the mobilizing structures, aims, repertoires of action and frames of migrant organizations in different European countries and cities to determine the impact of national (and local) “integration philosophies” and models of incorporation. Later studies using the concepts and tools of social movement analysis also focused on the importance of macro-level frames and opportunity structures such as citizenship and integration models to explain cross-national differences. Later, political sociologists turned to the transnational mobilization of migrants and solidarity movements while others instead focused on the city level as the relevant space in which to study the varieties of migrant ethnic minorities’ political integration and mobilization. Other studies have underscored the capacity of certain migrant groups to draw on resources and adapt to opportunity structures.

Books and Special Issues

Garbaye, Romain 2005: Getting into Local Power: The Politics of Ethnic Minorities in British and FrenchCities, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.
This book presents a comparison of the patterns of ethnic minority politics in British and French city politics. It includes direct comparisons of particular cities Birmingham, Lille and Roubaix. The books shows how ethnic and cultural diversity translates into political conflict in different political systems, and it considers styles of political mobilization of ethnic minorities in the context of urban political systems, as well as the strategies used by party leaders and to manage ethnic diversity in political competition. In addition the book analyses how ethnic and cultural diversity in urban societies translates into conflictual politics.



Ireland, Patrick 1994: The Policy Challenge of Ethnic Diversity. Immigrant Politics in France and Switzerland, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA.
In this Book Ireland considers three forms of explanations for immigrant’s political participation in the host country. Two explanations dominant in political theory focus on group characteristics. The first explains incorporation as a function of class organisation. The second holds that immigrants stay with their own ethnic enclave in the new country of settlement and remain tied mainly to their homeland rather than the new country. Ireland argues that these explanations cannot account for differences in levels and types of incorporation. Therefore he addresses how political opportunity structure channels and shapes immigrants political participation. He argues that where ethnic minorities have remained focused and oriented towards the home country it is because the host country, has facilitated this orientation.

Kastoryano, Riva 2003. Negotiating Identities: States and Immigrants in France and Germany, Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Immigration is even more hotly debated in Europe than in the United States. In this work of action and discourse analysis, Riva Kastoryano draws on extensive fieldwork - including interviews with politicians, immigrant leaders, and militants - to analyze interactions between states and immigrants in France and Germany. Making frequent comparisons to the United States, she delineates the role of states in constructing group identities and measures the impact of immigrant organization and mobilization on national identity.
Kastoryano argues that states contribute directly and indirectly to the elaboration of immigrants' identity, in part by articulating the grounds on which their groups are granted legitimacy. Conversely, immigrant organizations demanding recognition often redefine national identity by reinforcing or modifying traditional sentiments. They use culture-national references in Germany and religion in France, to negotiate new political identities in ways that alter state composition and lead the state to negotiate its identity as well.
Despite their different histories, Kastoryano finds that Germany, France, and the United States are converging in their policies toward immigration control and integration. All three have adopted similar tactics and made similar institutional adjustments in their efforts to reconcile differences while tending national integrity. The author builds her observations into a model of ''negotiations of identities'' useful to a broad cross-section of social scientists and policy specialists. She extends her analysis to consider how the European Union and transnational networks affect identities still negotiated at the national level.

Koopmans, Ruud & Statham, Paul (eds.) 2000: Challenging Immigration and Ethnic Relations Politics: Comparative European Perspectives. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
At a time when immigration and ethnic issues are hotly disputed across Europe, and challenged by minorities and xenophobes, this collection presents substantive cross-national analysis on the qualities of contentious politics. It offers conceptual approaches to migration and "ethnic relations" politics; it provides empirical analyses based on a method of systematic cross-national comparison; and, it addresses the emergence of the transnational level of political authority, its implications for national and sub-national politics, and how it is challenged by social movements.

Koopmans, Ruud, Paul Statham, Marco Giugni & Florence Passy 2005: Contested Citizenship: Immigration and Cultural Diversity in Europe, Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis.
From international press coverage of the French government’s attempt to prevent Muslims from wearing headscarves to terrorist attacks in Madrid and the United States, questions of cultural identity and pluralism are at the center of the world’s most urgent events and debates. Presenting an unprecedented wealth of empirical research garnered during ten years of a cross-cultural project, Contested Citizenship addresses these fundamental issues by comparing collective actions by migrants, xenophobes, and antiracists in Germany, Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Revealing striking cross-national differences in how immigration and diversity are contended by different national governments, these authors find that how citizenship is constructed is the key variable defining the experience of Europe’s immigrant populations. Contested Citizenship provides nuanced policy recommendations and challenges the truism that multiculturalism is always good for immigrants. Even in an age of European integration and globalization, the state remains a critical actor in determining what points of view are sensible and realistic—and legitimate—in society. 

Martiniello, Marco & Statham, Paul (eds.) 1999: Ethnic Mobilisation and Political Participation in Europe. Special issue of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 25/4.
This special issue of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies includes article that all deal with immigrants mobilisation and political participation in Europe. Contributions are: Zeev Rosenhek: “The politics of claims-making by labour migrants in Israel”, Paul Statham:
“Political mobilization by minorities in Britain and the negative feedback of ‘race relations”, Ruud Koopmans: “Germany and its immigrants: an ambivalent relationship”, Dirk Jacobs: “The debate over enfranchisement of foreign residents in Belgium”, Lise Togeby: “Migrants at the polls: an analysis of immigrant and refugee participation in Danish local elections”, Maritta Soininen: “The ‘Swedish model’ as an institutional framework for immigrant membership rights”, Meindert Fennema and Jean Tillie: “Political participation and political trust in Amsterdam: civic communities and ethnic networks” and Cécile Péchu: “Black African immigrants and claims for housing”.

Rex, John & Drury, Beatrice (eds.) 1994: Ethnic Mobilization in a Multicultural Europe, Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot.
This book deals with two interrelated and intertwined topics. One is that of the meaning of the concept of the multi-cultural society in Europe, both as an ideal, and as a means of describing actual societies. The other is that of ethnic political organizations and the role that they do and should desirably play in a democratic Europe. Unlike the question of racism on which most liberal scholars are united, the problem of ethnic politics in the multi-cultural society gives rise to considerable controversy which is well represented in this book. For many the notion of the multi-cultural society is a desirable ideal, but for others it involves a kind of apartheid incompatible with the ideals of liberty and equality in such a society and a political situation in which minority groups can be manipulated and controlled. These themes have been the basis of considerable research in Britain but it has become clear in communications with European scholars that many of the assumptions underlying British research are by no means acceptable to researchers in Europe.

Schrover, Marlou & Vermeulen, Floris (eds.) 2005: Immigrant Organisations, Special issue of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 31/5.
Migration scholars are increasingly realising the importance of immigrant organisations. Such organisations are not only important for the immigrants themselves, but also for their participation and integration into the host society. Immigrants set up organisations to create, express and maintain a collective identity. By studying organisations we gather valuable information about the settlement process of immigrants. We can thus see what differences were made important by whom, for whom, and for how long. The information gathered in this way can only be assessed if we know what factors influence the founding and continuation of organisations, and how this influence works. The articles in this issue focus on how and why immigrant organisations originate, and how they manage to survive and change over time. The authors argue that the characteristics of the immigrant community and the political opportunity structure are important in explaining immigrants’ organisational activity, but that the nature of the relationships is bell-shaped rather than linear. Too much and too little competition (from governments and others) leads to reduced organisational activity. Too small and too large communities experience problems in maintaining organisations.

Siméant, Johanna. 2003: La Cause Des Sans-Papiers, Presses de Sciences-Po, Paris.
This book focuses on mobilization by undocumented aliens in France since the first hunger strikes by Tunisians and others in the early 1970s when France sought to control and even reverse migration flows. The aim of the book is to understand the dynamics of these hunger strikes and other mobilizations drawing and contributing to social movement theories.


 Articles and Book chapters

Bousetta, Hassan 2001: “Post-Immigration Politics and the Political Mobilisation of Ethnic Minorities. A Comparative Case Study of Moroccans in Four European Cities.” Paper Presented at ECPR Joint Sessions, Grenoble, 6-11 April 2001.
This paper summarises the main findings of a PhD project recently finished at
the Katholieke Universiteit Brussel. It consist of a study of the political mobilisation of ethnic minorities in four mid size European cities, namely Antwerp, Liège, Utrecht, et Lille. This research has three distinctive features. The first is that it is an empirically grounded comparative research in four cities and three countries. The second main characteristic is that it is the first research of this genre on the political mobilisation of Moroccans in Europe.
Thirdly, it is a research which seeks to open up a more general reflection on the local management of ethnic diversity in post-immigration situations. The research actually allow three main conclusions to be drawn. The first is that there is a very important diversity of post-immigration political circumstances in European cities. This is observable in terms of immigration histories of the receiving cities, of settlement patterns of ethnic minorities, etc.
The second conclusion is that there is a broad diversity in the shape of the political mobilisation of Moroccans in the four cities analysed, but also a strong convergence in that they generally remain infra-political. In other words, although the Moroccan communities are politically active within their community organisations, the impact on broader urban political dynamics is weak. Finally the third conclusion is that the political mobilisation of Moroccans has to date had a marginal impact on local politics.

Danese, Gaia 1998: "Transnational Collective Action in Europe: The Case of Migrants in Italy and Spain," Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 24/4: 715-733.
The central aim of this article is to analyze whether migrants based in two southern European countries attempt to engage in ‘transnational’ collective action in new political spaces opened up by the European Union. To what extent and in which ways do migrants living in Italy and Spain organize and act at the European level? This specific aspect of migrants’ mobilization is discussed as part of a more general analysis of the organizational forms taken by migrants’ collective action, and the models of participation they face in their national host societies. This article’s starting point is to look at the contextual factors that shape collective organization, which are explored through the concept of ‘political opportunity structure’ adapted from fieldwork observations. The migrants’ active response to multi-leveled opportunities (i.e. opportunities at both the nation state and transnational level) will be illustrated. In order to provide a more complete and dynamic approach, the different degrees of cultural ‘know-how’ pertinent to engaging in social action will also be taken into account.

Della Porta, Donatella. 2000: “Immigration and Protest: New Challenges for Italian Democracy,” South European Society and Politics 5/ 3: 108-132.
In Italy, as almost everywhere in the European Union, immigration from outside the EU border is one of the most controversial political issues. Even in Southern Europe, usually defined as an area of emigration, the growing number of immigrants has produced waves of xenophobic protest. At the same time, however, the presence of immigrants has brought about demands for an enlargement of citizenship rights to non-nationals. The article uses concept and hypotheses developed in research on social movements to analyse mobilization and counter-mobilizations on the issue of immigration in Italy. Focusing on this specific issue, it presents some first results of a research project on the effects on social movement of the emerging challenges to representative democracies, in particular the weakening of identification capacity of political parties.

DeSipio, Louis 2001: “Building America, One Person at a Time: Naturalization and Political Behaviour of the Naturalized in Contemporary American Politics”, in Gary Gerstle and John Mollenkopf (eds.), E Pluribus Unum? Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Immigrant Political Incorporation, Russell Sage Foundation Publications, New York, pp.67–106.
DeSipio’s central finding in this chapter is that relatively few of the immigrants recently naturalized are politically active, at least as measured by their willingness to vote. The reason, he suggests, lies in an American political system whose institutions and rules have, since the 1950s, discouraged the participation of the poorer and less educated elements of the American electorate. He underscores the decline of political parties (and their machines) as one factor and the increasing professionalization of civic associations, with the attendant atrophy of their grassroots appeal, as another.

Fennema, Meindert & Tillie, Jean 2001: “Civic communities, political participation and political trust of ethnic groups”, Connections 24: 26-41.
The authors hope in this article to bridge the gap between all those researchers who in the trail of Almond and Verba (1963) have investigated the relationship between civic culture and political participation and those that are primarily interested in multicultural democracy. In earlier research the authors have found a correlation between political participation and political trust of ethnic minorities on the one hand and the network of ethnic associations on the other. (Fennema/Tillie, 1999) In this paper they treat the network of ethnic organizations a proxy for civic community. It is a long established assumption that voluntary associations create social trust, which, in turn can spill over into political trust. But if voluntary associations generate trust why would interlocking directorates among such organizations add to it? This article argues that trust can travel trough a network of interlocking directorates and by doing so increase. Civic community building is the creation of trust among organizations. Bottom up, increased social trust may generate political trust because the citizens feel that their leaders are competent to monitor local government. The rank and file sees their leaders as their agents. Top down, interlocking directors can spread the political trust they themselves have within the ethnic community. By doing so, they act as an agent for the local government. In both cases the interlocking directors have an important broker function. Finally it is discussed whether this civic community is generated by factors that stem from the political opportunity structure in the host country or whether more weight should be given to those cultural factors that originate in the country of origin.

Garbaye, Romain 2002: “Ethnic Minority Participation in British and French Cities: A Historical-institutionalist Perspective,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 26/3: 555-570.
In this article, the author sets out to explain cross–national variations between styles of ethnic minority incorporation in the conventional political systems of British and French cities. To this aim, inspiration is drawn from institutionalist approaches to minority participation. The article focus on a comparison of two cases, Birmingham (England) and Lille (France), and construct a parsimonious explanatory framework focused on three institutional factors: central–local relations in each country and local party politics and styles of local government in each city. The author argues that these elements combine in different ways in each country to produce different local political environments for the politics of ethnic minorities, thereby shaping patterns of participation and conditioning their success, or absence thereof, in the electoral process of cities. Because of local specificities, these two cases are not entirely representative of other cities, but they provide an illustration of the political processes at work in most cities. In Birmingham, minorities participate successfully in Labour party politics, while in Lille, they are submitted to persistent political exclusion at the hands of a powerful Socialist party machine.

Geddes, Andrew 1998: “The Representation of ‘Migrants’ Interests in the European Union,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 24/4: 695-713.
What impact does European integration have on the scope for representation of migrants’ interests in EU level decision-making processes? This article explores this issue by examining the development of legal, political and institutional responsibilities at EU level that have emerged to manage a range of immigration and asylum-related issues. The article then explores the components of a pro-migrant interest group agenda that has started to develop at EU level and the avenues for representation open to such groups. Their activity and effectiveness is related to the frame for political action provided by the new configuration of responsibility within the EU for immigration and asylum policy. This does present some opportunities for pro-migrant interest group mobilization, but also places limitations on the chances for success of such action.

Guarnizo, Luis Edourdo, Alejandro Portes & William Haller 2003: Assimilation and Transnationalism: Determinants of Transnational Political Action among Contemporary Migrants, American Journal of Sociology, 108/6.
This article presents evidence of the scale, relative intensity, and social determinants of immigrants' transnational political engagement. It demonstrates that a stable and significant transnational field of political action connecting immigrants with their polities of origin does indeed exist. The results help temper celebratory images of the extent and effects of transnational engagement provided by some scholars. The article shows that migrants' habitual transnational political engagement is far from being as extensive, socially unbounded, "deterritorialized," and liberatory as previously argued. Transnational political action, then, is regularly undertaken by a small minority, is socially bounded across national borders, occurs in quite specific territorial jurisdictions, and appears to reproduce preexisting power asymmetries. The potential of transnationalism for transforming such asymmetries within and across countries has yet to be determined.

Guiraudon, Virginie 2001: “Weak Weapons of the Weak? Transnational Mobilization around Migration in the European Union”, in Doug Imig & Sidney Tarrow(eds.), Contentious Europeans – Protest and Politics in an Emerging Polity, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Boston. Pp. 163-183.
The development of international institutions that coordinate or constrain state action has been said to encourage the creation of transnational activist networks that in turn aid resource-poor domestic actors. This article asks whether this is the case of the European Union, one of the most developed set of international institutions, in relation to migrants, a resource-poor group to the extent that it is generally disenfranchised and socio-economically disadvantaged. The European Union has the potential to further the claims of non-EU migrants since it is removed from electoral politics. The author argues that cross-national divisions among activists have hampered transnational collective action. It stems from the fact that their struggle has been shaped by their interaction with dissimilar nation-states that remain the main dispensers of rights and benefits. The article first maps out the legal and organizational framework of the migration policy domain in the European Union to uncover the material resources available for social movement organizations and the spaces available to exert policy influence.  It then analyses EU Commission funding of migrant associations to highlight that the EU discriminates in favour of well-endowed pre-existing transnational networks. Finally, the article compares the two most prominent European migration-related networks, The Starting Line Group and the European Union Migrants' Forum. The study shows that EU opportunity structures foster a particular type of contentious organization: lobby-like initiatives made up of activists from institutionalised interest groups such as churches and international NGOs able to provide expert advice. Representative bodies of migrants have so far not been able to develop a common agenda and exert influence at the European-level. 

Ögelman, Nedim 2005: “Immigrants Organizations and the Globalization of Turkey’s Domestic Politics” in Rey Koslowski (ed.) International Migration and the Globalization of Domestic Politics, Routledge, New York, NY. Pp. 33-61.
Ögelman analyzes the political behaviour of immigrant-origin actors linked to Turkey, using increasing migration, transportation and communications revolutions, and democratization as primary explanatory variables.

Ögelman, Nedim 2003: “Documenting and explaining the persistence of homeland politics among Germany's Turks“, International Migration Review, Vol 37 (1), pp 163-193.
This article examines the development of Germany's Turkish organizations since 1961. These have failed to mobilize Germany's Turks around shared ethnocultural grievances against the host society. A transnational political opportunity structure, a contextual framework involving host and sending countries, entices distinct actors leading Germany's Turkish organizations to focus on homeland differences instead of common interests. In this transnational context, actors – whom Ögelman labels political migrants - influence immigrant community cohesion by using associations to pursue goals rooted in the homeland or host country. When a sending country generates contentious political migrants in an ethnoculturally dissimilar, homogeneous democracy and the hosts fail to incorporate the foreigners, infighting focused on the homeland is likely to preoccupy the immigrant community.

Tillie, Jean 1988: “Explaining Migrant Voting Behaviour in the Netherlands. Combining the Electoral Research and Ethnic Studies Perspective”, REMI, 14/2 (1988), pp.71–95.
This paper explains migrant voting behaviour in Dutch municipal elections. To answer the question, theoretical perspectives from the field of electoral studies and perspectives developed in the field of ethnic studies are combined. One of the conclusions of the paper is that migrants combine, in their voting behaviour, either an "ethnic identity" with an ideological orientation or an "anti-racist" identity with ideological party preferences.

Wüst, Andreas M. 2004: “Naturalised Citizens as Voters: Behaviour and Impact”, German Politics, Vol. 3 (2), pp 341-359.
The composition of eligible voters is changing continuously – in Germany and elsewhere. In electoral analyses, we pay special attention to new, first-time voters and to young voters in general. We consider young people to be trendsetters and we think that parties should pay special attention to this group in order not to lose touch with an age cohort or even with a whole generation. Yet much less attention is paid to those people that join the electorate by naturalisation. Only recently - and as a result of the new citizenship law that took effect in 2000 - have naturalised citizens been perceived as potential party voters, and even the parties' policy preferences in migration and naturalisation policies are said to be influenced more by the electoral impact of immigration and naturalisation than by any other factor. There are few data and even less analysis on the voting behaviour of naturalised citizens in Germany, although there has been a recent contribution that fills the gap to some extent, using nationwide and local data.2 The nationwide screening of naturalised citizens in the monthly Politbarometer surveys which have been the source for earlier analyses is replicated for the period from October 2001 to September 2002. Based on these data, this article describes who these naturalised citizens are, how much interest they show in politics, and how well they know parties and politicians. Further, it casts light on how frequently naturalised citizens participate in elections, which parties they vote for, and which ones they tend to avoid. Finally, the article makes an estimate as to the size of the impact made by naturalised citizens on the outcome of Germany's 2002 Bundestag election.

See also Special issue of Wiener Hefte 1/1 (2003)