Volpower Panel of Integration Discussion

  • Published in:
    Central and Eastern European Migration Review, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2023, pp. 103-113
    DOI: 10.54667/ceemr.2023.13

    18 February 2022


    28 June 2023

    Views: 2197

This discussion was held in April 2020 as a part of the Volpower Academic Workshop: Challenging Integration through Everyday Narratives. This is a creative effort to involve a live discussion and reflection on the theme and studies of integration in this special issue. It brings together Adrian Favell, Kesi Mahendran, Jenny Phillimore, and Jon Fox as established scholars and critiques of policy and research in the integration field in discussion with each other while queried by Peter Scholten.


Keywords: migration, integration, narratives, nationalism, social inclusion

Peter Scholten: I invite you all to make an opening statement on the conceptualisation of integration and the use of the concept of integration in the field of migration studies.

Kesi Mahendran: The first publication that I wrote on integration was in 2013 in a book that Umut Korkut and I produced together entitled A Two-Way Process of Accommodation: Public Perceptions of Integration along the Migration Mobility Continuum. What I did in that work – and, indeed, continue to do, is take official accounts of the concept of integration, put it on the table and enable citizens, irrespective of their own degree of migration, to debate the concept.

When we asked everyone, whether they were a migrant or a non-migrant, to use that binary to talk about integration – their own integration – and, indeed, the very fact that such a concept should exist within the public sphere, interesting things happened: people’s experiences of integration did not necessarily relate to their degree of migration. We found people – who had hardly any history of migration – who openly admitted to not being particularly integrated, partly because they did not conform to the norms of the society or the city in which they lived. They were not married; they did not have children and so on. They described themselves as not particularly integrated. How confident they were about not being integrated.

Of course, this raises a more psychological question. I started to build a team called the Public Dialogue Psychology Collaboratory. When we built that team, we began to look, over the last 10 years, at the idea that these official concepts were acting as idealised starting points.

The last publication I produced, called ‘Dialogical Citizens’ Integration and the Possibilities of Diffraction’, is in a new book called Liberating Comparisons, released this month. In that text, rather than the concepts sitting as binary, I [explain why] when they get into official discourse and even the idea of a two-way process of mutual accommodation, which is the EU’s common basic principle of integration, [this] continues to sustain the binary. This is usually understood psychologically: a majority in a minority group seeking to enter into a two-way process to come together. I propose that the solution is to take the binary and create a lens, which diffracts it into a series of positions. I articulate those positions as a migration, [a] mobility continuum, which has 10 positions in it, from generational non-mobility through to serial migrants who have moved several times and fully intend to move again.

Jon Fox: If we are going to work with the concept of integration – and that is something I am committed to doing – it requires a fundamental rethink to address many of the problems that have been identified with the concept in public policy [and] in academic discourse. I am working on a project right now where we are trying to do that. We are trying to develop a new approach to integration that we call ‘everyday integration’. That approach is a local, inclusive and bottom-up approach to integration, which we think addresses some of the problems with integration.

It is local in the sense that it starts in the local context where the practices of integration occur. So, this is a practice-based approach. If we are interested in practices as opposed to ideologies or discourses, it makes sense to start locally, not just in terms of the more manageable size of the populations we are working with but more because we are closer to the ground where integration is taking place. This is the most important part – or the most distinctive part – of our approach. It is inclusive in the sense that we cannot make this about immigrants and refugees. So, integration needs to be something that involves all of us and fits more easily at a local scale than it does at a larger scale. If we are to get beyond the stigmatising and sometimes racialised discourses behind a duration policy or the nationalist discourses behind innovation policy, we need to stop seeing this as an ‘us and them’ equation and we need to see it as an ‘us’ proposition. So, this is something that involves all of us. It is bottom-up in the sense that it is practice-based. This is us doing the labour of integration in the routine context of our everyday lives, demystify[ing] the idea of integration.

It is not something that we need to take tests for, need to even measure, necessarily. It is something that we need to be allowed to do and we need to attenuate the barriers that get in the way of that. The problem with integration is not with us. The problem with integration is the barriers that get in the way of us doing the work of integration.

Peter Scholten: Thanks, Jon. Adrian, can I invite you to take the floor?

Adrian Favell: Thank you. I am here as a critic of integration as a concept. Although I would be sympathetic in some contexts with the focus on impact and local pragmatism, I am taking a hardline approach to talking about integration. In my work I focus on the history of integration as a concept, predominantly in a European context but also in relation to US and North American ideas of assimilation. I chart the revival of integration across Europe after the 1980s and its adoption in the UK and even the US. I focus on the cost of confusing different meanings and uses of integration that are bifurcated between muscular liberalism – nation-state-centred neo-nationalism – which has really shifted the discourse a lot to the right over the last couple of decades. There is also the attempt to respond to this with an intercultural, EU version of integration, also linked to superdiversity –- focusing on local-level processes and a celebrated, interactive version.

This is what we used to call multiculturalism – or other terms such as conviviality. Going back to the 1990s, integration is used to enforce a particular sort of political power in society, i.e. national sovereignty over society. I suggest that we ought to think about integration rather in terms of its long-term social theoretical meaning. This means retracing its roots and thought [via Parsons] through to people like Luhmann and then critiquing that usage when it is spelled out in terms of an actual social theory of society.

I developed various ways in which we can critique this particular use of integration across the recent past, focusing on the way in which integration is used to continue to reproduce a theory of modern development in our societies. It is about both individuating and unifying society, which is the obvious side of integration, the production of citizenships and a new kind of multicultural society. However, it is also about bounding society and its links to how we identify lots of other populations – mobile populations who are outside of the integration discussion, including those who are free to move and be globally mobile without ever really being subjected to integration.

Peter Scholten: Thanks so much, Adrian.

Jenny Phillimore: I have been researching integration for over 20 years with forced migrants, engaging with the voices of forced migrants, trying to understand how important integration is as a process to them. For me it is a non-normative set of processes of settling, of making home, belonging and also the kind of mutual accommodation that has already been raised by the other speakers. This idea of ‘us’, I think, is important – and, as [Kesi Mahendran] says, not two-way but multi-way.

Because I am a social policy analyst who also researches migration, for me it is really important to focus on policy and practice. It is not just about social interaction, social cohesion or social integration, which I feel is the direction that Adrian’s coming from. In my work, I question the idea of ‘them’ and ‘us’. In rethinking integration, we talk about the need to focus on ‘we’ and ‘how’ everyone can live together and achieve our best lives. In migration studies, I think it is important to take a social policy perspective, to look at policy on integration but also the impacts of immigration policy on integration.

Like many people, I note that there are multiple objections to the use of the term ‘integration’ and Adrian’s terms, the muscular liberal approach to it, is quite offensive. But then, it is very successful as a concept in the public sphere. It has been successfully used in organising policy and practice, rather than in actually delivering. So, it is hard to displace it at policy level. What I have been arguing for is a more complex understanding of integration. I recently published a paper on integration opportunity structures, which is focused on context, locality relations, discourse, structure, initiatives, support and trying to shift the focus away from refugees and migrants.

Just one last point. There was a debate, in the early stages of the conference, about whether we as academics should engage with policymakers on this issue and whether, by doing so, we are feeding into this kind of muscular agenda. I would argue that that dialogue is absolutely essential. Academics must dialogue with policymakers and push back against the dominant expressions of integration. If we do not engage with policymaking processes directly and do our best to ensure that they robustly refuse some of the ideas that Adrian set out, the danger is that we will move more to the right. I use the example of the indicators of integration but, if we are not careful, we will find the language of things like shared values, meaningful mixing and the idea of homogenous society being seen as the norm in all documents. We must not allow that to happen.

Peter Scholten: We now start with questions. I have four questions lined up and one for each of you, but I also want to invite you to respond to each other. It is a dialogue after all. We have blocks of eight–nine minutes for a question, to make sure that all four are at least covered.

Let me start with Question 1. Jenny, you talk about integration as a concept that is non-normative in your perspective – you try to bring a more complex understanding of integration. My question would be: How does it line up with work on superdiversity, which is all about social complexity, complexity of diversity and the diversification of diversity? Is integration still a meaningful concept in the context of complexity? Who is integrating into what, in the context of social complexity? Can we still speak of processes like integration or incorporation? That is a part of the normative side, because you have covered that in your opening statements. In terms of your proposed use of the concept, does it help us to understand how people live together in superdiverse societies?

Jenny Phillimore: I think the concept of superdiversity draws out the complexity of integration and shifts away from this idea of incorporation. The point about superdiversity is to express fluidity, to move away from groupism, from ethno-nationalism and to draw out transnational elements.

One of the things that we rarely do in integration is think about integration in relation to transnationalism and, when we are thinking about ‘us’, the ‘us’ also includes multiple connections. I work with refugees who have family in 15 different countries. […] told us stories of how, when doing his work in Tilburg, he would do linguistic ethnography in someone’s front room. The computer was permanently on, the screen is open. Skype is permanently running and the family elsewhere is joining in the conversation with the social worker. So, I think superdiversity draws that out of integration and can help us to push back against the idea that it is incorporation into something.

Because the thing, whatever that thing is, is constantly changing. This is why I like to focus on processes and not on outcomes. It is the process of belonging, becoming and of homemaking that is fair for everyone.

Peter Scholten: Does that not make integration a very broad concept, Jenny, because then integration is just like incorporation? Is that still the meaning of the concept of integration per se, if you make it so broad?

Jenny Phillimore: Yes, I suppose it makes it quite relativist. One of the things that we have done in the past is focused, probably far too much, on the voices of refugees and trying to understand integration from those perspectives.

There is a lot more work to be done. And the work that […] was talking about, of broadening out integration and talking to wider communities and individuals about what it means to them, is quite important. Does it need to be a narrow concept? Can it not be multithreaded? We are kind of stuck with it and I have taken Adrian’s point. We do not want to be using it to shore up these nation-state ideas but it can be done differently. And we have got a lot more work to do in that regard.

Peter Scholten: Jon, Jenny made the perfect bridge to a question I had lined up for you. So, let me follow up immediately. Jenny comes with a broader, more everyday understanding of the concept of integration. So that brings it closer also to your work.

You say that we have committed to the term integration in your projects and in the UK. If you look at some other European countries, the concept of integration is being upended. So, a question from the Dutch perspective would be: To what extent are we creating a scapegoat around the concept of integration – for us integration is a concept that is from the 1990s and the early zeros? And since then, policymakers have already abandoned it. My question to you would be, do you really need it for your research, to make sense of those everyday practices that you are studying? Do you need the concept of integration and, beyond that, the relation with policymakers?

Jon Fox: No. That is the short answer. I do not think that we need the concept of integration to make sense of the everyday practices that we are studying. But I do think that we need it to do the thing that Jenny’s talking about if we want to have the ear of policymakers. So that is great that the Netherlands has moved beyond it, but how have they moved beyond that? I have read a lot of different contributions on the Dutch case. It has not been, from what I can tell, a very linear trajectory. There has been a back and forth and there’s been a lot of local approaches, local experimentation, progressive approaches and not so progressive approaches taken.

In terms of the overall arc, I would like to be where Adrian is. I would like to be beyond all of this, put this into the dustbin of history and move beyond integration. But, as a journey, we are not there yet. That is the reality, at least that is the British reality. The Netherlands may appear a little bit different. But then the Netherlands may be a bit of an outlier in this case. There are plenty of countries [that] still very much operate with integration or other concepts or names that are doing the work of integration.

So, if we want to have the ear of policymakers, if we want to talk about integration [in] ways that avoid the problems of integration, then we need to keep working with those concepts. There are so many things that we could call our project – we do not have to call it integration. Most of the people working on the project have massive problems with integration. We are doing this [so we] can contribute to a shift in the way we think about these concepts of integration. It is the work that Jenny is doing as well, as she said, with the indicators of integration. If she is not there at the table then what are those indicators going to look like? We are not at the table yet. Because of that, we are starting with much bigger, more fundamental ideas. So those are going to be difficult to translate into some sort of policy but you have got to start somewhere and this is where we are starting. So sociologically, I am on board with Adrian and his critiques of integration.

I just find it problematic. We are trying to abandon the kind of Durkheimian idea behind it, which puts us into these problematic concepts. Everybody agrees with us trying to move beyond those things. How successful we will be is anyone’s guess. However, we are already having conversations with people about these things. We have got people listening or we hope to have people listening. And that seems to be the agenda with which we are going.

I am glad that you did not ask me the question you asked Jenny though, in terms of talks and inflated concepts of integration. Our project wins that ticket completely. Jenny’s [project] has a much narrower understanding of integration than we do. So academically, I think it is problematic but I think it is important if we are going to have the ears of policy.

Peter Scholten: Thank you. If somebody wants to come in with a follow-up, please do so. Otherwise, I will just continue. Adrian?

Adrian Favell: I would be interested [in] both Jenny’s and Jon’s views about whether this shift to focusing on the more positive local dynamics of integration and then trying to reclaim the term in that sense, is an effective way of diffusing what is the dominant national policy-level understanding of the term? That reflects things like the… report in Britain, which was about imposing integration in a muscular way on issues to do with Islamic communities in societies and drawing the national line of what was tolerable and intolerable – which is, of course, how it was debated in the Netherlands and other countries previously.

There has been a shift away from trying to influence the national framing agenda. So, what I am particularly concerned about is how things have shifted from where Britain was in 2000 with the report on the commission on multi-ethnic Britain. There was a vision of a different sort of society that was really disintegrative of the national way of thinking and embracing a more diasporic vision of how a society works – but it was trying to seize the national agenda. Of course, now we are living in a revived neo-national British empire type of project at the national level. I do not contest that good things are going on at the local level and the sort of observations of things that go on in Bristol or Glasgow but I am worried about this kind of mismatch with what I think is the dominant national position.

Peter Scholten: I will follow up in a minute. First, you also want to come in at this point, right?

Kesi Mahendran: I started as a policymaker first and then left government and became an academic. I would challenge the idea that policymakers, although they are moving faster than academics, require you to arrive with the same terms of reference they use. I think you can arrive and sit at the table, presenting new concepts. It is much harder if you arrive presenting critique, because it is so hard to work with critique when you are a policymaker.

We need to say this to new researchers coming into migration in this area: there is a role for academic leadership. If you can put new concepts on the table – certainly that is what we are trying to do – then policymakers will work with them. Politically, too, they will work with that because political arenas are about newness and offering something that the other lot are not offering. That can lead in a post-national sense and lead other countries. So, we need to keep open the nature of the debate between academics and policymakers and politicians.

Peter Scholten: Thank you. This academic leadership is an important point you make. I will come back to that in a minute. But let me now follow up with Adrian, which links to the previous debates. If you look at the conference and here today, we have four British commentators on the concept of integration. I followed up a little bit, studied last week, Googled developments in the UK. When it comes to the concept of integration, it has come up relatively late and we are one of the last countries in Europe to adopt the concept.

Does this UK focus – and often UK basis of criticism of the concept of integration – not say something? Where does the criticism come from? If you look at the critics of the concept of integration, I see a lot of people from the UK and from the Netherlands – the Dutch people are half British anyhow – and the Dutch and the British are all influenced by the same literature tradition, which is very UK–American.

I think also, Adrian, you mentioned the UK–American tradition, thinking about concepts of assimilation, for instance. If I read some of the critiques of the concept of integration, whether I agree with them or not today, often when I substitute the term integration in those articles with assimilation, then it totally makes sense. It fits into a very long and deep tradition. If I then compare them with some of the work from […] and from Germany in particular, then it does not really make that much sense to me. In the first instance, the connotation seems to be different and I need your help a little bit here to make sense of that. Do you also see that? I just perceive integration differently from the UK and North American traditions than from a German tradition – what does that say of the youth?

In a sideline, at the conference last week, I had a conversation with people from Germany and they said a little bit [of] what Jenny said, [in] my opening statement. They were very concerned that if the concept of integration went on the table, then it would leave the way wide open for German governments to no longer do anything for migrants and for diversity. That is the connotation. So my question to you, Adrian, is let us say [in] the American–UK–Dutch criticism of the concept of integration, is there a language bias in there?

Adrian Favell: I hope you will give Jenny and Jon a chance to respond to the previous points after this but I spent a lot of time in my writings trying to make sense of this, the conceptual big picture. First of all you need to say that integration is a French concept. It comes from Durkheim and the most powerful formulations of integration, that solve all of the issues at both the national and local the level, were the French formulations of the 1980s, which then went on to completely shape the Europe-wide discussions on this.

Britain was very late to the party on this but the French conceptions of integration, developed in the 1980s, are very close to the American concepts of assimilation, not understood as ethno-national white dominant nation-building but, rather, an assimilation more in the kind that emerged through the work of Richard Alba. The […] volume, which I think is so crucial, is the comparative work of North America and Europe, [which] imposes integration as the single framework on all these cases. I understand that integration was seized upon as something we could work with progressively, in a pragmatic way, in research in the light of the refugee crisis. That is what you are referring to, I think – in Germany, for example. There is masses of work going on around integration because that is the word that has enabled a certain sort of progressive reflection. What I tried to do is to suggest that this progressive integration is a kind of multicultural nationalist conception.

The British case, which is the parent across all of Europe now, is a reflection of the dominance of the North American notion of building society out of immigrants and trying to deal with racial and ethnic diversity associated with immigration through coming up with this progressive vision of a nation that draws all of its strength from integration. This is what I call the integration nation. It is interesting that Britain is the vanguard nation in Europe, it has been for decades. It has been the place that people look to as the place that had the most sophisticated, developed ideas of multicultural nation-building.

This is bound up with the strength around British nationalism, as a positive image of itself in the world. It is linked to post-colonial transformations. That is ultimately why I find it so problematic, because I think it is a colonial view of the world – and, of course, Brexit has made it visible even more as a national project, of imposing a certain vision of the multicultural integration nation. I do not quite understand the contrast you are trying to draw between the Anglosphere and the continental European sphere, because I think all of these nations are operating in that sort of space.

For me, the big alternative to this was the kind of post-national project of the European Union, which often stayed out of national immigrant integration issues [and] only really echoed them on a coordinating level but which did introduce into the equation all kinds of issues to do with post-national membership and rights and so forth. I think [these] were transformative of the question while they were still happening and transformative in Britain, until Britain decided it could no longer deal with these issues and opted out.

That is the response that I would want to develop to this question but I do think that there is consistency across Europe. Also, I think we ought to be looking at quantitative work. The quantitative studies of integration, which have proliferated in recent years, use a very standard model of immigrant integration. It is very close to the… model. That is really nothing like the integration models that Jon and Jenny are proposing. I unfortunately do think that we must be able to quantify what we are saying qualitatively, in order for it to make sense as a sociological model. And that is where I think things get difficult and default to a particular sort of integration nation model, as I am calling it.

Peter Scholten: Before I go to the fourth question, which starts with Kesi, I would like to draw Jon into the discussion, because I heard you stating last week this connection between integration and ethno-nationalist, ethno-cultural conceptions of the nation, as you were criticising that automatic connection.

I look at the German debates and the connection seems to be less there than in the Netherlands and that seems the case in the UK. So perhaps you would like to respond to the previous point of Adrian’s and clarify your points last week on the connection between integration and the cultural…

Jon Fox: I think empirically, historically, this connection has been quite strong. So again, I am influenced by the work of Adrian and the work that he has done here. I do not disagree with our connection but, just like him, I see that connection as the problem. To move beyond that problem is to move beyond the kind of ‘groupist’, culturalism case – the focus on ethnicity, the focus on groups fundamentally, the focus on ethnicity, culture, multiculturalism, these sorts of things.

I find it interesting, Adrian, that you equate the progressive approaches I would like to think myself a part of, with this multicultural nationalism. What we are doing in our project, not to sound defensive, is not talking about ethnic groups or immigrant groups or minority groups or groups at all. We are trying to move beyond that – we decided we were trying to focus, without usurping agency from the people who are doing the work of integration, we were trying to think about the work that they do, not in groupist terms but in practice terms.

The interventions we are trying to make are not with people but with the institutions, the structures, the processes, the practices that equate [to] integration. I do not know that we need to make this equation. What kind of progressive approaches, local approaches, pragmatic [approaches], the things that Jenny is trying to do, the things that I think I am trying to do with this multicultural nationalism? I certainly would make a very strong distinction between those things. Let us say that is not at all I am doing and, if it is, then I have got to stop doing it. So, we know that is the problem, right? If this has been the problem of integration, it has been so tightly entangled with this kind of nationalism.

Peter Scholten: Jenny, can I invite you in, only related to this point – integration being connected to nationalism? Could you reflect on that?

Jenny Phillimore: I wanted to reflect back on the local–national binary. Adrian has suggested that we need [to] work on and to contest national policy and the idea of a nationalistic state, which I completely agree with. That does not preclude the local. There are many academics and we have many perspectives. I think it is really important that people like Adrian continue to push the kind of thinking around integration and to push back against this nationalistic lens.

There is still space to look at what is happening locally. We need to be able to connect the local and the national, which feeds into the multilevel governance ideas that Peter has talked about before and brings in a role for superdiversity. One of the main things that we have been trying to do through super diversity is to push back against groupism and this whole idea that you can put everybody in a group. We have moved now to a more space-[based] approach, which is a great way of not looking at groups – to look at what happens within a space. But then, of course, there is always a scale. Somehow, we have to try and bring the groups in the space together. So, we have moved from methodological nationalism to a methodological neighbourhoodism. We need to get somewhere in between. There is plenty more work to be done.

Peter’s point about a German perspective on integration – and that, if we do not have a national approach to integration then we will do nothing – is valid. That is important because what we have done in the UK is made a few national pronouncements on that horrific case report and then we have said that it is all done. Integration happens at a local level. There is a shocking discourse coming out of the government now, which shapes public opinion but also government’s responsibility to provide welfare for everybody.

We have the hostile environment – which we need to contest a lot more – but also there is evidence from existing work of a violence of abandonment. If the nation-state does nothing to support those who are within it, then unfortunately violence and harm […].

Peter Scholten: Thank you. Let me also echo the point on a methodological localism. It also manifests in our own research in Rotterdam, where the concept of integration surprisingly re-emerged and was abandoned again two years later. That is a new line emerging that I have not fully made sense of.

Let me continue to the fourth question. You rightly brought up the points on academic leadership. In the sidelines of last week’s conversation, talking with some very young scholars, they asked for our academic leadership. What they said is that we understand that the concept of integration is flawed, that its categorisations are problematic – whether they are ethnic, racial or cultural – and even the concept of migrants. That is why migration studies is so incredibly hard but also why it is so nice to be in this field of study. You are dealing with an incredibly complex issue that really matters. There should be training for everyone in the field of migration studies to be able to reflect critically on essential context and concepts, because we have a lot of them. We hardly have any concepts that are not essential.

They ask for our guidance – what do we do as young migration scholars? We try to understand how people interact. Try to rise above the binary in your work, with a continuum from migration to mobility. Reflect on what lies beyond the concept of integration or inclusion and all the other concepts that we have on the table in migration studies. What shall we do beyond integration? What do you recommend to young scholars in this field to use as concepts, to try to make sense of this complex thing that you are studying, in a better, more ethical way?

Kesi Mahendran: What I would say to people who enter this field is to pursue your analytical interests. That takes a certain degree of bravery because you do have to tune out some of the dominant policy discussions. You can get [caught in] the policy cycles very easily.

We have a grouping within IMISCOE, which is the reflexivity in migration studies standing committee of which I am a member of the board. It is new so it is a great time to join it. This is a space where we do this sort of thing. There is a combination of things you need to do – methods which are not dying and enable citizens’ voices to come through. If you are listening to them and talking to them, they are the biggest creative resource that we have.

I do not think that we go beyond integration. We go within it. We have moved far too quickly. I really support Jenny’s critical awareness and her critical realism about the conditions under which we are working. I do think it pressurises us to move slightly too quickly. What we have done is raise two policy indicators before we really dismantled some of the key concepts that exist within integration as a broad frame, the big one being migration itself – migration as a movement. This is something that we need to do right across Europe, not least because we have freedom of movement as a pillar within [the] European Union project.

We need to understand degrees of migration movement, not least because it is analytically fascinating to understand why people move and why they do not move. When we speak to people who have not moved, their parents have never moved. Their grandparents have never moved. They tell the story of how they have never moved over generations. That is a really fascinating story. We find that the groups of people who have never moved, generationally, is a tiny group of people because, of course, people have moved for economic reasons for centuries. That would be my proposal – for researchers to have the bravery to pursue your analytical interests. You would not use official statistics so easily, so do not use concepts so easily. Pursue them, get into the history of the concept. Go back to the 1930s [and] assimilation would have [been] viewed with suspicion. The very fact that people were assimilated – I am thinking Jewish communities – precisely used to say something quite different. So we need, I think, as researchers, as academics, to maintain rigour and independence.

Peter Scholten: I really like your call for independence but also reflexivity. It is a broad term but it is an important one, especially in this field with the topics that we have at hand. It is important to the work that we do, to the training that we give people who enter the field. And it is important to our relations with policymakers. That is why I think it is a nice conclusion, because we are approaching the end of the session. Can I ask whether you would like to add any concluding [remarks]?

Umut Korkut: I have one question for Adrian about class action, because clustering features in your research and you have been discussing [it] for the past few days.

Class seems to be an issue which is waning. I am thinking about Scottish nationalism and about all the social justice claims that are embedded in Scottish independence movements, et cetera. I would imagine that most of the people in England, especially the north of England, would also consider themselves equally disadvantaged on the basis of the claims that are embedded in Scottish nationalism.

[For] people here, there [are] certain feelings of injustice – they do not necessarily feel like reaching out to people of Northern England or other, let us say, disadvantaged communities in England, in order to build a much stronger kind of class-oriented movement in order to stand up for their justice claims. When it comes to your research and your reflections on migration, you tend to argue that there is a difference between where we are on the hierarchy of migrants, such that – if you belong to this group of cosmopolitans – there is not much of an expectation to integrate. Whereas, if you do not belong to this group of cosmopolitans and then, depending on where we are on the class hierarchy, the integration demand increases on us at the same time.

We also see reflections such as assimilation. For example, you may feel yourself assimilated, but it does not necessarily mean that people around you will look at you as assimilated. You may face these ruptures in your integration or where you are – it is based on your mobility and your belonging. Considering the waning importance of class and considering how other people would assume where you are in terms of your mobility and integration, why do you think cluster matters in order to define people’s integration journeys?

Adrian Favell: Integration, at some level, is about equality. It is interesting that we shift the discussion away from issues of equality, to issues of cultural understanding or mutual recognition.

Scholars studying integration do want to see equality. It is really what it is about and the problem with integration is that you have got this dual issue. This building of internal quality at the national level is what integration is supposed to achieve. It is supposed to bring everybody up to parity of status within society. At the same time, it often reinforces the bigger inequality that is out there, which is global inequality. It is also striking in our discussion that we have not really talked about the basic issue of citizenship as the key defining inequality in the world.

So, we shift to a discussion about citizens having dialogues and so forth, without recognising that the major structuring factor is the citizenship that is given to these migrants who come through an integration path. They become full citizens who are naturalised and they are somehow going to blend into the nation on an equal level because they have that status. Integration then continues in other ways – ethnic and racial relations, as we used to call it. It is fundamentally about class in this sense. I am very concerned about the ways in which integration is being used as a way of symbolically reaffirming the equality of the nation, our joint membership as equals in society, at a time when we have spectacular inequality and freedoms at one end of society that other people do not have because they are not mobile in the same way and are not subject to the same sort of integration pressures. There is this conjoined irony that we are projecting the core integration of the nation on these supposedly indigenous nations, working-class-type natives – this myth that has arisen in the British political discourse – who are supposed to embody the true integration of the nation. They presented [as] the group against which new migrants are going to be measured. We are expecting them to integrate into the same places they live and so forth, when these people themselves are absolutely not integrated. We do not live in an integrated society. We live in a disintegrated society that is using integration in order to reinforce the big disintegration of global inequalities as well. I have not answered your question directly but that lays out a little bit of thinking about your question.

Peter Scholten: Thank you.


Adrian Favell  https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5801-6847

Jon Fox  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2428-3482

Kesi Mahendran  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3931-3026

Jenny Phillimore  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1213-2302

Peter Scholten  https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5745-9531

Umut Korkut   https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0150-0632

Doga Atalay  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0265-473X

Marcus Nicolson  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2593-7927


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