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Beyond assimilation and multiculturalism: Varieties of incorporation regimes in post-enlargement Europe. Evidence from Italy and Spain

Roxana Barbulescu
University of Southampton
Roxana Barbulescu
University of Southampton
Open Panel

Abstract

Traditionally, scholars concerned with incorporation policies have taken the national models as their units of analysis by downplay the role of sub-state as well as supra-state (i.e. EU) actors. While the national level is still the political arena where most of the policy decisions are taken, in EU member states and in semi-federal states such as Italy and Spain, the European level as well as regional and municipal level are key actors at all points in the policy process: agenda setting, policy-making, and policy implementation and evaluation. Indeed, the old national models are negotiated at the European table but pursued and reinvented by the regional and local governments. This paper analyzes the incorporation regimes across these four levels of governance: European, statist, regional and municipal in order, to on one hand, have a more comprehensive and accurate description of the incorporation regimes migrants are faced in their host societies and, on the other hand to move away from explanations centered on the nation-state and avoid methodological nationalism. Drawing on Rinus Penninx´s (2004) typology, I also consider the immigrant policy in the legal/political dimension as well as socioeconomic and religious/cultural dimensions but further split these dimensions in more concrete variables. For instance, I consider voting rights in local elections, reduced time for naturalization, possibility for deportation and easy transition from temporary to permanent residence for the legal/political dimension and record the presence or absence of the respective policy. Based on the data collected at the four levels and along the three dimensions mentioned above, I construct a typology of incorporation regimes. The models found fit perfectly to particular foreign groups: generally assimilationist approaches for non-EU migrants non-Christian, to a less degree asimilitionist for the co-ethnics and to an even lesser degree for the new EU citizens and, finally, more multicultural for EU-citizens. In conclusion, this paper argues there is a continuum of models, from less to more inclusive, for different foreign groups that are simultaneously pursued and enforced within one Member State.