Theses Doctoral

Voice and Belonging: How Open vs. Restricted Models of National Incorporation Shape Immigrant-Minority Identification and Participation

Bech, Emily Cochran

Young Europeans with immigrant background live in societies that practice different models of national identity, where nations continually define themselves through citizenship policies, political rhetoric, and everyday social interaction that signal membership to be more open, or more closed, to those without native roots. In other words, young immigrant minorities are constantly receiving signals about whether or not they are accepted as part of the national community. This dissertation investigates how these 'working national identities' influence immigrant minorities' civic integration, defined as their identification with the national-civic community and their participation in political life. Denmark and Sweden, broadly similar societies with historically similar immigration patterns, differ in their citizenship policies, political debates over integration and levels of discrimination. Using this variation, the dissertation analyzes primary survey and interview data collected among immigrant-minority young adults in both countries to observe the effects of their citizenship policies, political debates and social inclusion on those minorities' perceptions, and the influence of those perceptions on their civic integration.

I find that social inclusion increases minorities' national identification, while politician concern raises the likelihood that they will vote. But causes of engagement in other forms of political action vary more: while minority men are more likely to engage in political action if they perceive their groups to be excluded, women are more likely to do so if they identify with the community. Throughout, I find men to be more affected by the exclusion of their own ethnic and religious groups than women are. Further, higher levels of exclusion and greater politicization of minority issues in Denmark mean that these factors have stronger effects there, but also raise participation by spurring interest in national politics.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Snyder, Jack Lewis
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014