In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Immigrant Incorporation in Western Europe

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals and Reference Sources
  • Transnationalism
  • Incorporating Islam and Muslims
  • Immigration and Welfare
  • Majority Society Responses and the Extreme Right

Political Science Immigrant Incorporation in Western Europe
Christian Joppke
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 August 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0102


Immigrant incorporation (or integration) is a subfield of migration studies, and it constitutes a genuinely interdisciplinary undertaking of sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, lawyers, and historians. In none of these disciplines, however, has it carved out an established niche for itself. In contrast to the United States, where the study of immigrant integration (or “assimilation” as US researchers prefer to say) is more firmly grounded in sociology than in political science, a characteristic of the European scene is a larger prominence of political scientists, macro comparativists, and legal-institutional scholars. This reflects the fact that immigrant integration in Europe is, to a much larger degree than in the United States, framed by public policies, and it often goes along with major transformations of state institutions (most importantly citizenship) and national identities. European states (even France) are ethnic nation-states, where sedentariness and not moving is the norm, and they stand for countries that are much less attuned to, and constituted by, international migration than the classic immigrant nations of North America and Oceania. Overall, European scholarship is marked, on one side, by single-country studies by national experts, which are often solicited by their respective governments interested in policy advice (but increasingly also supported by supranational research bodies). On the other side, most agenda-setting work has grown out of qualitative single-person studies (often dissertations) by macro sociologists and political comparativists not (or only incidentally) rooted in national university systems and disconnected from policy contexts. The field is in need of further conceptual development and of theoretically reflected, genuinely comparative work of the second type, which is mostly off the public funding radar.

General Overviews

Reflecting the low presence and prestige of migration issues in political science at large, there are very few works that take comprehensive views on immigrant integration. A major overview of the “politics of immigration” in the liberal state is Hampshire 2013. The leading introductory textbook for “migration studies” at large is Castles and Miller 2009. From a political science perspective, the first work to consult is Givens 2007. More theoretically ambitious are Favell 2001, which critiques the national blinders and conceptual poverty of most integration research, and Bleich 2008, which contrasts different styles of scholarship with a preference for area- and discipline-transcending conceptualization (that is exceedingly rare in this field). A conventional “country study” assembly with many a “national hero” is Heckmann and Schnapper 2003. Joppke and Morawska 2003 traces a more general theoretical and political shift from “multiculturalism” to “citizenship.”

  • Bleich, Erik. “Immigration and Integration in Western Europe and the United States.” World Politics 60.3 (2008): 509–538.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0043887100009072

    This is a useful review article on different styles of scholarship on immigrant integration, advocating a move from area studies toward the building of more general concepts that can travel between subfields or even disciplines (an approach favored by the author).

  • Castles, Stephen, and Mark Miller. The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. 4th ed. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

    This is the leading, continually updated textbook in migration studies, covering everything relevant in the field, including, of course, immigrant integration. While it is, therefore, not narrowly on integration, it is still the indispensable beginner’s source.

  • Favell, Adrian. “Integration Policy and Integration Research in Europe: A Review and Critique.” In Citizenship Today. Edited by Alex Aleinikoff and Douglas Klusmeyer, 349–400. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2001.

    This is the best available overview and deft critique of the conceptual limitations and ideological blinders of “national” integration research and the policies that this type of work feeds and reinforces.

  • Givens, Terri E. “Immigrant Integration in Europe: Empirical Research.” Annual Review of Political Science 10 (2007): 67–83.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.polisci.9.062404.162347

    This is one of the rare (perhaps only) review article(s) on immigrant integration in Europe from a political science perspective. Discusses works on multiculturalism and assimilation, party politics, and antidiscrimination policy, especially at the level of the European Union (EU).

  • Hampshire, James. The Politics of Immigration. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2013.

    This major overview of the entire migration field from a political science perspective (including entry policy and integration policy) argues that some features of the liberal state work toward inclusion (constitutionalism and capitalism), while others have restrictive effects (representative democracy and nationhood).

  • Heckmann, Friedrich, and Dominique Schnapper, eds. The Integration of Immigrants in European Societies. Stuttgart: Lucius and Lucius, 2003.

    This volume of the traditional “country study” type contains chapters on France, Germany, Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Finland written by leading national experts.

  • Joppke, Christian, and Ewa Morawska, eds. Toward Assimilation and Citizenship: Immigrants in Liberal Nation-States. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

    The volume diagnoses state policies moving away from multiculturalism toward citizenship as well as immigrant behavior oscillating between assimilation and transnationalism. The focus is comparative (western Europe and the United States), with contributions from leading scholars from both sides of the Atlantic.

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