Are Immigrants Under a Duty to Integrate?

AreImmigrants Under a Duty to Integrate? Itis often assumed that immigrants are under a duty to integrate into the cultureof the country in which they now reside (Mason, 2012 p169). People often feelimmigrants have chosen to move and therefore owe it to conform to the rules oftheir new society. However, in this essay it shall be argued that this is aweak argument because it does not acknowledge the implications for futuregenerations of immigrants, and refugees who are forced to flee their homecountries. I will explain why I take the view that immigrants are under a dutyto integrate, but that this duty only arises when the majority population ofthe receiving country makes an equal effort to adapt their own culture inresponse, as a result of government action.

I will use normative premises toexplain what justice should demand of immigrants, as well as empirical evidenceevidencing the successes of integration across Europe. I will focus closely onthe United Kingdom as an example of immigrant integration, and ascertain thesuccess of this. 1.

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     Is integration a one way process or a two way process?David Goodhart argues that the duty to integrate falls onimmigrants not existing citizens; it is a one way process and, beyond treatingnewcomers fairly there is no obligation on existing citizens. This is becausethe immigrant has chosen to join an existing society and consequently mustadapt to its ways of life (Goodhart, 2013, p130.) I would argue that thisaccount does not prove that immigrants have a duty to integrate, as it does notset out a point at which successful integration can be achieved. This isproblematic; it allows for the erosion of any minority culture and verges on anassimilationist account. If every immigrant was expected to shed any affinitythey feel for their country of birth, and any expression of this was to besuppressed, a Eurocentric culture (Heywood, 2007, p314) would develop, and to destroyan individual’s identity is not justifiable and thus immigrants do not have aduty to integrate. Moreover, this account ignores second-generation immigrants whodid not have a choice in which society to develop in, and fails to show whyrefugees, fleeing war or economic hardship, should take on the additionalburden of conforming to an entirely new way of life, losing their religious andcultural identity in the process. TariqMadood describes integration as a two-way process, and, for the purpose of thisessay, I will agree with this. Integration is defined as a process by which both the minority and the majority populations changetheir customs, practices, behaviour or values; there is mutual adaptation.

He writes, “if there is a duty to integrate,then it will bind not only minority cultural groups but also the majority andthe former cannot alone be blamed for failing to integrate.” (Modood, 2013 p48.)However, this process account of integration is limited because it does notspecify a point at which integration is successfully achieved. Goal-basedaccounts of integration are useful as they rectify this problem and I willcritically evaluate two. Firstly, the social participation account fromElizabeth Anderson; integration ‘consists of the full participation, in termsof equality, of socially significant groups in all domains of society.

“(Anderson, 2010, p113.) Secondly, the shared national identity account,which has been pursued by various political leaders from countries whichexperience high levels of immigration, such as the UK and Canada. This accountargues that a society is integrated when members ofdifferent cultural and religious groups share a national identity based onshared values.

I will examine the merits of each approach to integration,before arriving at a conclusion which will outline which I find most valuable.  2.    The SocialParticipation Account Elizabeth Anderson’ssocial participation account provides a valuable approach to integration becauseit explains that if ‘socially significant’ groups are willing to participate inthis new society, then integration will occur and society will be improved(Anderson, 2010).  Socially significantgroups refers to both immigrants and the state (two-way account) (Modood, 2013);there is a duty on the immigrant to integrate by participating in society, andthere is a duty on the state and majority population to respect and interactwith the new features that will enter their society as a result of immigration.  When immigrants settle in a newsociety, they participate not only in its existing institutions e.

g. theelectoral system or welfare state, but also establish new institutions such as religiousgatherings.  The onus is on bothimmigrants and the receiving population to interact with these old and newinstitutions. Social participation is a valuable justificationfor the duty of an immigrant to integrate into society for many reasons. Anderson’s extensive research into racial segregation inthe United States led her to conclude that that minority groups leadingseparate lives can deprive them of access to opportunities, and thatintegration is key to rectifying this (Anderson, 2010). Equality of opportunityis one of the most important factors in a just society according to Rawls(Rawls, 2005), illustrating the importance of these interactions and justifyingan immigrant’s duty to integrate. Social participation can take place at thenational, regional or local level, but it is the latter two that, I argue,breeds the most success in providing equality of opportunity. While superficialinteractions may positively impact relations between individuals, it is at ahigher level that true integration must take place.

When immigrants areinvolved in the policy-making process of the host country, equal participationwith their majority-group peers will ensure that public policy will reflect theinterests of all rather than the traditionally dominant population (Heywood2007, p319). Therefore, it is justifiable to require immigrants to integrate. Whena substantial part of a country’s actual population has no political rights,the legitimacy of its democracy should be questioned. Even if immigrants do nothold citizenship, there is an argument for the idea that granting them theopportunity to participate in the political system will encourage integration. Grantingvoting rights to foreign immigrants, has been implemented by a number ofcountries in Europe. In Norway and Sweden, immigrants have the right to voteand stand at a local and regional level (Spang, 2011).

This is one of thereasons why Sweden is considered as the country with the most successfulintegration policies towards immigrants, with Norway in 4th (,2015). The social participation account of integration is valuable whenconsidered from the perspective of Allport’s contact hypothesis (Allport, 2008).Allport outlinedmultiple parameters which can reduce prejudice.

When immigrants and themajority population interact enough to lead to personal acquaintance, inpursuit of shared goals, supported by institutional authorities or law, theyengage in ‘meaningful contact’ which goes beyond benign acknowledgement oreconomic transactions as this does not have a positive enough outcome to beconsidered successful integration (Mason, 2012, p174). When meaningful contactoccurs, this produces mutual trust and respect between immigrants and thepopulation of the host country, while reducing prejudice, resulting in a stablesociety, which justifies asking immigrants to fulfil their duty to integrate(Mason, p170). The Cantle report provides an empirical example to prove thevalue of Allport’s hypothesis, claiming that “there is an urgent need topromote community cohesion, based upon a greater knowledge of, contact between,and respect for, the various cultures that make Great Britain such a diversenation,” (Cantle, 2001, p10). BritishGovernments since 2001 have endeavoured to promote social participation inorder to integrate immigrants into society, to avoid repeating the disturbanceswhich sparked the need for the Cantle Report.

Thesedisturbances stemmed from different ethnic groups leading ‘parallel lives’, andGoodhart points out that this often breeds distrust in society (Goodhart, 2013,p132). If meaningful interactions do not occur between minority groups and themajority population, minorities can become immersed in their own culture andonly exist within these boundaries; they will only work, go out with and formrelationships with those within their racial profile, and the division betweenethnic groups will become self-reinforcing. Cameron, speaking as leader of theopposition, criticised Labour for allowing ‘state multiculturalism’ to occur,saying this has resulted in “the idea that we should respect differentcultures within Britain to the point of encouraging them to live separatelives, apart from each other and the mainstream,” (Sparrow, 2008.

) Continuingdivisions, particularly in boroughs of London where racial violence is common,illustrate why immigrants have a duty to integrate in the social participationsense, in order to adjust to their new society, and also how the state mustpursue policies of mixed schoolings and shared housing in order to furtherintegrate the growing immigrant population. However, the social participation account of integration is notflawless. A vigorous commitment to promoting integration may touch on thepossibility of assimilation by violating individual rights. Muslim schoolgirls,for example, may be banned from wearing the traditional headdress if they arein single or ‘no-faith’ schools. Furthermore, participation in institutions mayfail to produce an affinity towards the country immigrants now settle in,resulting in second or third generations feeling like a stranger within their home.Therefore, both immigrants and the host country must go beyond socialinteractions, and create a shared national identity which everyone can feel partof.  3.     The Shared National Identity Account  Multiculturalists view culture is the core feature of our personaland social identities, whether or not we are immigrants.

As a result of this,they often take a communitarian view of society; individuals cannot beunderstood outside society, and thus our identity is embedded in the social andcultural contexts in which we live and develop (Heywood, 2007, p317.) Therefore,the state has a duty to promote a culture which evokes pride and celebrationfrom its immigrants and host populations alike. This creates a stable societybecause a shared culture fosters respect and tolerance between individuals astheir lives are all impacted by a set of similar factors. In many countries,the state attempts to achieve this by creating a shared national identity.Immigrants must also make an effort to acknowledge that they reside in a vastlydifferent society to that which formed their original identity, therefore they mustcompromise on certain beliefs and values. Immigrants must be willing and ableto integrate, but the receiving population must also allow them to retain anindependent cultural identity and avoid lapsing into eurocentrism. As Modoodpoints out, an immigrant’s duty to integrate should only arise when theirunique cultural identity is respected in kind (Modood, 2013 p48.

) Promoting integration in this sense faces a dilemma; the valuesconstituting this identity can be ‘thin’ or ‘thick.’ Thin values allow for onlybroad shared values to form an identity, such as liberty and freedom (Paris,1991.) These are simple values for immigrants to identify with but lacksubstance and will fail to instil any true sense of patriotism. A thicker setof values may include sharing a language or educational system.

These valuescreate a stronger sense of identity but run the risk of becomingassimilationist, which is an unjust expectation to place on immigrants as theyrisk being denied the right to express their own cultural identity. In the UK, negative stereotypes towardsimmigrants persist. 37.6% of people believe that Muslims perceive terrorists asheroes, while 62.2% believe there are too many immigrants in the UK (Zick,Küpper and Hövermann, 2011, p 54.) The findings of the report concluded that “recognisinginequality means appreciating cultural diversity and difference and applyingthe same standards to all groups without distinction,” (Zick, Küpper andHövermann, 2011, p158.) David Cameron attempted to reduce mistrust betweenimmigrants and British nationals by focussing much of his rhetoric on thepromotion of “British values.”  This isimportant for the political leaders of every country due to the rise of right-wingextremism and populism; these ideologies see immigrants as inferior and do notbelieve they deserve equal status with the majority populations (Zick, Küpperand Hövermann, 2011.

) At the Munich Security Conference, Cameron pointed outthat the lack of integration for young Muslim men had pushed them towardsextremism, and that efforts should be made to create a British identity which immigrantscould identify with (, 2011.) The dilemma faced over the creation of ashared British identity stems from the fact that British values are vague anddifficult for immigrants to identify with.  Goodhart provides a partial solution tothis problem. He proposes to make St. George’s Day a bank holiday to celebratewhat it means to be English as well as compulsory citizenship where youngpeople from all religions work together on common projects; this would fulfilboth immigrant and the host populations’ duties to integrate together(Goodhart, 2013, p449-450.

) Britain, and England in particular, has failed toproduce a national identity which accommodates both ethnic minorities and theidentity of the majority. This contrasts with Ireland, where the divisionbetween minorities and majorities has been overcome and a sense of nationalpride is seen positively, through St. Patricks’ Day celebrations and sportingevents, rather than the lingering sense in England that patriotism is a dirty word,synonymous with nationalist. These values are thick enough to provide a truesense of affinity for immigrants toward the host country, yet thin enough tonot place unrealistic constraints on their individual identity. However, the problem with this account ofintegration is obvious. It fails to recognise the need for equal respect anddignity between immigrants and the majority population, and results in dominationof the majority culture over the immigrants’ culture. I argue that a diverseculture should be celebrated and protected in every society.

It is unjust toexpect immigrants to shed values that have been embedded into their identitythrough history, in order to integrate into a society which may be the polaropposite of their home, especially in the case of refugees. A sense ofbelonging between residents of a country should be cultivated in order tofoster trust, but this should not result in the erosion of any minorityculture. Freedom of expression should actively be protected, alongside attemptsto shape a national identity which immigrants can, and should seek to integratewith.

 ConclusionThis is far from an exhaustivejustification of why immigrants only have a partial duty to integrate intosociety. Areas for further study include closer empirical analysis of theattempts across Europe to integrate immigrants in society, and a morecomparative approach between countries. I have endeavoured to prove why thesocial participation account of integration is the most valuable account ofjustice, but it should be pursued in conjunction with a shared nationalidentity in mind. Social participation is a valuable approach to integration asshown by the Swedish example because it fosters mutual respect and trustbetween immigrants and the majority population.

The host country has a duty tointegrate immigrants because often these are western superpowers with thegreatest quality of life, and should endeavour to integrate immigrants, many ofwhom may be refugees, as each individual deserves equal opportunity and accessto resources in a just society. However, immigrants also have a duty tointegrate; this takes the form of participating in the institutions of the hostcountry and also cultivating a greater sense of identity from this new culture,while still retaining the values and beliefs instilled by their native country. 


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