The large-scale migration caused all sorts of tensions in the receiving countries, particularly when it became clear that immigrants planned to settle permanently and eventually claimed to participate socially and politically in their countries of settlement. However, the presence of immigrants did not yet become a politically contested issue everywhere. In some countries such as Spain, Ireland immigration did not become as politicized yet as in other European countries such as Switzerland, Austria and Belgium. The ways in which the issue of immigration became politicized are very different according the country.
This research project has four aims. First, it will increase the knowledge about the conflicts over the social and political participation of immigrants in Western Europe. Secondly, it will answer to the question why and when do potential conflicts become politicized, and when and why do they not become politicized. Thirdly, the project will increase the knowledge of the way political processes are constrained by institutional conditions. Fourthly, the project will provide policy-relevant information by assessing which actions of state institutions have been more or less successful in managing conflict on immigration and integration.
The project focuses on the role of four types of actors —the state, political parties, movements and the media— in politicizing, or de-politicizing, the issue of immigration in seven receiving countries (Austria, Belgium, Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland). The dependent variable in our study is the extent to which and the way in which the issue of immigration became politicized. This will be measured on the basis of claims and counter-claims made by three types of movements: interest groups of immigrants, anti-immigration movements, and anti-racist solidarity groups. Moreover a comparative approach will be used to study divergences and/or convergences between selected countries.
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