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The impact of integration policies on actual integration of migrants.

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Par   •  2 Novembre 2016  •  Mémoire  •  2 790 Mots (12 Pages)  •  631 Vues

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Justine Caro

Due on May the 8th 

MEMO – Sociology of Immigration, Ethnicity and Race (Spring 2016)

The impact of integration policies on actual integration of migrants in France and Germany

Introduction:

According to the Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), France is ranked as the 17th country where migrants are best integrated with a score of 54 out of 100 whereas Germany is ranked as the 10th best country with a score of 61. The best country according to this index is Sweden with a score of 78.  

We will get back to this index further down in our analysis and analyze it more precisely but I chose these figures as an introduction for this memo because I thought it was interesting to see how two equally developed European countries with a more or less the same developing path and the same migration patterns could obtain such different rankings when it comes to integration of these migrants. Is it because the German migrants are naturally more skilled at finding their place and integrate to their host society? It seems very unlikely. It would rather be that the integration policies implemented by these two countries are different and that they therefore impact the actual integration of migrants.

That’s what we will be trying to find out, asking ourselves the following question: How do the different integration policies led by countries influence the actual integration of their migrants? In a first part we will compare the integration policies implemented by both countries, taking a closer look at the measures taken but also asking ourselves their goals when putting this policy in place…Do they use different measures to reach the same objective or do they have two different conceptions of what the place of migrants in their host society should be? In a second part we attempt to empirically compare the effects of these policies on the integration process. We will therefore take a closer look at the methods enabling us to understand the impact of policies on integration. In a third part we will eventually discuss the two approaches of integration as regards to their efficiency, thus offering a more personal but still documented point of view on the matter.

 I- Measures taken and objectives of two different integration policies in France and Germany

A. General stances of integration policies and measures put in place

It took a long time before the issue of integration was addressed for itself at the national level, whether in France or in Germany. It was only in the eighties that policies started to be implemented in France for instance. Indeed the question of integration is a quite complicated matter: does “integrate oneself” mean giving up on particularities, on cultural, language habits inherited from the society of origin? Should integration to a society go hand in hand with adhering to the values the states considers important whereas nationals themselves are not unanimous about them? Is nationality of great importance in the integration process? And finally, should the state push for integration by putting in place measures or should it be a natural process? If we look at all these questions, it therefore seems that integration is hard to define and can take on different meanings according to the countries. However, countries like Germany and France appear to have picked a certain definition of integration and decided that it should be helped via policies; integration policies. Integration policies can consequently be defined in our case as measures or general guidelines adopted by a state in order to facilitate the “vivre-ensemble” of its population no matter their origin, thus pushing for the adopting of common cultural norms as well as values.

If we are to start with France, it seems that the country is adopting a rather assimilationist integration policy, that is to say that the state is strongly encouraging migrants to adopt the cultural norms and habits of the “French society” (or what they define as such), put language as an important if not indispensible variable of integration and secularism as something migrants have to give way to. Furthermore, there are in France some republican principles that are supposed to be guidelines of the “vivre ensemble” and to which it is very important migrants obey. It can therefore be called assimilationist because there is a language, there are practices that are presented as more valuable than others and which are compulsory to accept in order to fulfill integration. Furthermore, France tends to refuse to deal with identified cultural, religious or ethnic groups as formed groups thus denying particularity which can generate frustrations and make integration a painful process which can look a bit like a forced denial of the migrant’s culture and origins.

        

        Concerning Germany, the integration policies and the philosophy of integration are different. Germany doesn’t automatically link integration to assimilation like France does. This means that a migrant arriving in Germany should obey to rules regarding religion in public spaces for example but not necessarily show a particular adhesion to German “values”. It appears to be a more voluntaristic: if migrants want to integrate there are some things (like the German language) they should adopt but they are not too wrongly perceived if they choose not to. Also, Germany accepts cultural particularities and agrees to deal directly with groups when it comes to discuss integration, they do not act as if these groups did not exist within the German society:  they accept the absence of uniformity. However, there is an important detail I would like to bring attention on: the access to German nationality is rather difficult but it is not actually erected as a goal for each and every migrant to aim for. It looks like integration can be achieved through work, social, cultural integration, the success of vivre-ensemble doesn’t depend upon the uniformity of all citizens, nor the official belonging to the national body through citizenship. This particularity reinforces the idea that Germany is betting much less on uniformity than France does when it comes to judging the level of integration.

B. The aim of these integration policies: a different conception of integration in both countries?

        Now we are going to reflect a bit more upon the aim of such approaches of integration. France on the one hand, is, through assimilation, aiming for unity of all the people composing its national body. That is what qualifies a successful integration: the respect of a number norms, rules, having a high esteem of the nation you live in and even some gratefulness for this host society that is opening itself to you even though this opening is submitted to your acceptance of the sub-mentioned rules. That is the idea and I think this philosophy of integration translates a different conception of integration itself, of the nation and of the place a migrant has in it. Indeed, it reflects the conception of a body of “national principles” that are very important to the survival and the enduring cohesion of the nation whereas the migrants and his cultural background is a threat to this, an element of division for a nation that needs unity. Consequently, integration is put forward as a goal but at the same time there is always this perception that the stranger is different, that it can never completely fit into the nation, which may be true if fitting means giving up on his specificities to become a completely different person, because that is nearly impossible.  Manuel Valls said the following things in 2013, talking about the Roms in France : “There are of course integration solutions but they only concern a few families, it’s illusory to think that we’ll solve the problem of Roma populations only through insertion. These populations have ways of life extremely different of ours. This therefore means that Roms are meant to travel back to Romania or Bulgaria.” This quote proves my point in the sense that it shows that migrants are analyzed through the prism of their difference and these differences are erected as hardships to integration instead of acknowledging them and putting them backwards while putting forwards the humanity of all people and their ability to adapt.

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