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Political Science in Europe

Which values? Investigating actors and issues of the politics of values in the field of immigrant integration

Political Parties
Astrid Mattes
University of Vienna
Astrid Mattes
University of Vienna

Immigrant integration has become one of the most central policy fields for the politics of values. Here, boundaries of membership are drawn and re-negotiated on the notion of shared values. While some issues in the field of immigrant integration are focussed on technical processes (e.g. labour market integration, language acquisition), the notion of common values is found mostly in the intertwining of immigrant integration with politics of religion. This paper looks into the fuzzy concept of shared values at the conjunction of religion and immigrant integration politic, investigating its actual filling and political usage.
The empirical work my paper builds on is part of a larger research project that collected long term data on the contents of immigrant integration policy debates (1993-2013 in GER-AT-CH) and conducted interviews with political and religious actors as well as a qualitative content analysis of more recent documents. For the joint session on the politics of values I would like to restructure the collected data according to the questions posed in the section proposal. Therefore I focus on two groups of actors, namely political parties (in particular Christian-democrats and right wing populists) and faith based organisations (especially established Christian Churches and Muslim associations) and their involvement in the politics of values within immigrant integration. I will discuss their involvement in Austrian immigrant integration policies as this is a particularly interesting case: While having a long tradition of religious tolerance, the country also has one of strongest right-wing populist parties in Europe. Using this case study as an example, I aim to show how the notion of common values in field of immigrant integration functions as a reservoir for drawing boundaries of membership according to the different actor’s interests. Simultaneously, it outsources crucial societal debates about gender relations, secularism and liberalism to those constructed as unwanted.
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