On Immigrants ‘Semi-Adapting’: Self-Defense, Not Resentment

by Robert Moorehead

In all social processes, you have to have the word ‘inclusion’. … without that word, I’m not going to change the world, and they’re not going to change me, because they’re going to have that culture of defense [from me]. Not resentment, but defense.

Lately I’ve been working on a paper for a conference, and I’ve been fixated on an interview with an immigrant father. Juan (a pseudonym) is a Peruvian of Japanese descent who migrated from Peru to Japan more than 20 years ago. Juan expresses his frustration over what he sees as the lack of inclusion of Peruvians and other migrants from developing countries in Japan, in contrast to the greater openness to foreigners from the United States or Europe.

I don’t have a voice (in Japan), and I never will have it, because they (the Japanese) will never know what I think. But, in this case, if an American or someone who speaks English and who has been to school … they’d say ‘Ah, he’s American,’ but in our case, Japanese descendants, all we have the surname and the face. That’s all I have in this society.

Sociologist Tanya Golash-Boza (2006) notes that we learn our place in society through social interaction, including whether to expect inclusion or exclusion. Based on his interactions, a married Japanese man in Japan may expect that his voice will be listened to, and that his relationship with his romantic partner will be valued. In contrast, a member of a subordinate group, such a racial, ethnic, or sexual minority, may learn instead to expect to be ignored, denigrated, or otherwise marginalized. In Juan’s case, he’s learned to expect to be excluded from decision-making at work, to be asked when he’s leaving the country, to have weak relations with his Japanese neighbors, and to be treated as if all Peruvians were alike.

Precisely what are we Peruvians missing in Japan? (Respect, I reply.) Exactly. Because we don’t have it. … We all have different amounts of education, and other experiences, but the Japanese don’t see us that way. They see us all the same. …

Thus, even as many Peruvians in Juan’s housing complex diligently follow the local housing rules and keep quiet to avoid bothering the neighbors, they still risk being blamed when problems occur. As Karen Tei Yamashita writes in her brilliant novel Circle K Cycles:

A tour of Homi Danchi [housing complex] … gives you a sense of an oppressive quiet—the sound of sleeping people who work the night shift, the sound of a silent majority who want very badly to be accepted, the sound of people trying very hard to be quiet. Even the children seem to play quietly. This is as quiet as Brazilians can possibly be. This is probably as ruly as it gets.

And yet, loud music blaring from an apartment will bring suspicions that the offending party is Peruvian or Brazilian. If the guilty party is found to be a Japanese teen, the prior suspicions will still be justified, as one time,  years earlier, it really was a foreigner.

For example, what I see in the factory, the highest position you could get is leader. Leader of who? The Japanese? No. Leader of the foreigners, foreigners like Brazilians, Paraguayans, and others. But here I can’t achieve more, I’m never going to achieve more. I’m never going to be a permanent [employee]. So that whole situation, it’s not resentment toward the Japanese, because my father and mother were Japanese, if they weren’t I wouldn’t be here. But it’s not a feeling of resentment, it’s more that the Japanese need to be more open toward foreigners ….

In a situation like this, how do subordinates respond? How can they respond? Openly complaining about poor treatment risks further marginalization, including having your complaints seen as proof that foreigners are incapable of integrating into social life in Japan—a logical fallacy that confuses cause and consequence and blames foreigners for their own marginalization.

Subordinates can, and often do, resist in many ways, as James Scott notes in Weapons of the Weak. Juan describes avoiding integrating further into Japanese society, saying “they’re not going to change me” and that he has only “semi-adapted.”

What we do is, we haven’t gotten used to it, we’ve semi-adapted. Semi. … I am more included, semi-included, in Japanese society than others. Why? Because of my physical features and my last name (which are Japanese).

This pattern of only “semi-adapting” means that Juan is done trying to fit in. It’s less a sign of resistance than of self-protection. If Japan includes him as a member of Japanese society, and not as a ‘foreign guest,’ then he’s happy to participate. But “you have to have the word ‘inclusion.’”

Whether the second generation will follow this pattern is unclear. Juan’s children are fluent Japanese speakers and envision their future lives as adults in Japan. As Juan notes, such an approach is essential for their future employment prospects in Japan. However, they may still face the stigma of their foreign ancestry.

Here in Japan, I’ve always thought that if you’re thinking of living here in Japan, in my children’s case, with semi-liberty practically (laughs). But they’re going to live here, so they’re going to have to study more, to be able to compete in whatever profession as foreigners with Japanese, because they’re fighting against one thing, that they’re not Japanese.

I’m hoping to decipher the contours of this pattern of ‘semi-adapting’ in a journal article. In the meantime, these blog posts will hopefully stimulate the analytical process, keeping things moving. What other examples are there of this approach? How can we better understand the experiences of assimilation/integration/incorporation of first-generation immigrants?

References

  1. Golash-Boza, Tanya. 2006. “Dropping the Hyphen? Becoming Latino(a)-American through Racialized Assimilation.” Social Forces 85(1):27-55.
  2. Scott, James C. 1985. Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  3. Yamashita, Karen Tei. 2001. Circle K Cycles. Minneapolis, MN: Coffee House Press.
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The problems of Asian female migrant care workers in Japan

by Megumi Takase

In recent years, Japan has accepted female migrants from Asian countries to work as care workers. They are expected to support Japan’s aging society. By the way, in “International Sociology” classes, we learned the bad situations of female migrants from the Philippines in Japan. In this paper, I will consider what problems female migrants from Asian countries will have by working as care workers and what the Japanese government should do for them.

First, I will discuss the working conditions. The wages of care workers are low in Japan. The research of Nippon Careservice Craft Union shows that care workers who earn from one hundred and fifty thousand yen to one hundred and seventeen thousand yen account for the most percentage of all care workers. Moreover, if they don’t get nursing certifications, they earn only half of the regular pay. Without serious efforts to save their money, most of their income would go to their cost of living in Japan and they wouldn’t be able to send money to their family in their home countries. In addition, according to Nippon Careservice Craft Union, it tends to be difficult for care workers to take a paid vacation. It will be hard for care workers from Asian countries to go back to their home. It will make both them and their family feel lonely.

Second, there is the problem of language. Most migrants from Asian countries who work as care workers come to Japan for the first time. Thus, they should study Japanese while working, but it will be hard because working as a care worker is also hard. They will have difficulty in getting their nursing certifications in Japan because the test for it is held in Japanese. The Japanese law provides that if care workers from Asian countries can’t pass the test within four years from the day when they came to Japan, they should go back to their home countries even though they have been trained in Japan for more than three years.

Why do female migrants from Asian countries who work as care workers receive such bad treatment? I think it is because of the view that nursing is a part of domestic work of a housewife in Japan, and the indifference of the Japanese government toward human rights of immigrants. In Japan, it is common for housewives to take care of their old parents. Housewives are supposed to do it without being paid because they love their parents. Because nursing is still regarded as “labor of love” which housewives should do, I think that care workers are suffering the bad working conditions.

Furthermore, because of the bad working conditions, more and more Japanese care workers quit the job. Thus, I think that the Japanese government decided to accept Asian people merely because it was fascinated with their cheap wages. It seems to me that the Japanese government takes advantage of immigrants as much as it can. The Japanese government should change its mind toward nursing and improve the working conditions of care workers. In addition, it should respect immigrants’ human rights and make migrants friendly working environments.

References

“Nikkei Business online,” http://business.nikkeibp.co.jp/article/topics/20100326/213634/?P=1 (viewed: 2013/11/15)

Shimada, M.(2009). Problems Related to Incoming Nurses and Care Workers from Indonesia : Focusing on the Workers. Ryukoku Journal of Economic Studies 49(1), 255-264.

“NHK news commentators bureau,” http://www.nhk.or.jp/kaisetsu-blog/100/115321.html (viewed: 2013/11/15)

Immigration for children in Japan

by Yuki Muto

Children are victims of immigration. Their parents migrate with their children, even if the children don’t want to go. We learn from the two articles that bilingual children get high grades in their cognitive tests. Then we think, “They should learn not only English but also their mother tongue there” But I think many immigrants can’t. Most immigrants migrate as laborers, and they don’t have enough money to let children learn their language or enough time to communicate and teach with their language.

My aunt teaches Japanese to foreign children. The children learn Japanese earlier than their parents, but their scholastic ability is not high. One reason is the difficulty of learning “in Japanese.” (They can speak Japanese fluently but they can’t read and understand subjects in Japanese.) Another reason is their family background: many immigrant families have trouble providing care for their children. For immigrant children, learning the host country language and adopting Japanese culture are pressing needs to live, and their mother tongue is of low priority, and a “luxury option.” That’s why they tend to lose their mother tongue and their own cultural identity. That show how difficult it is for minorities to keep their cultural background in the host society. Immigrants are required economic power and their cultural capital to live in the society.

Some minorities are closed to their narrow community and feel difficulty in assimilating to Japanese society. In 1989, the Immigration control and refugee recognition act was revised, and the government allowed Japanese Brazilians to stay in Japan as migrant workers. So in some industrial areas (Toyota-city in Aichi, Hamamatsu-city in Shizuoka etc), there are some Brazilian communities. They can work in factories with Brazilian colleagues, and their children can take classes in Portuguese. They can live without being able to speak Japanese fluently. The problem is, once they lose their jobs, they will be isolated from Japanese society. They only can speak Portuguese even though they have worked in Japan. That kind of troubles was occurred in 2008, when the Japanese economy fell into a recession because of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Many Brazilian immigrants lost their jobs and crimes of Brazilian immigrants were reported in the news. That’s because the students in Brazilian school couldn’t get their jobs. Their case is worse, because some of them don’t have any connection to Brazil, and they are not allowed to live as Japanese in Japan.

In my conclusion, all immigrants’ children should have rights to learn same level as children in the country. I hope they will have rights to decide their future living place, their nationality irrespective of their parents’ nationality or economic power.

Accepting immigrants in Japan

by Yuri Kasai

From Asian countries such as the Philippines, Korea, and China, many immigrants have come to Japan. After World War II, the Japanese government accepted many Nikkeijin (日系人), who have one Japanese parent or Japanese parents under the Immigration Control Act of 1952 and taking part in the convention of international immigration. Since the 1970s, in the bubble economy, there were four categories of immigrants, according to sociologist Hiroshi Komai. Firstly, many immigrants such as Filipinos, Koreans, Taiwanese and Thais have come for entertainment work and they can get an ‘entertainer’ visa. Secondly, refugees from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos have come to Japan for the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees between 1970s and 1980s. The third category consists of Japanese group who went to Manchuria during the World War II. The fourth category consists of businessmen in Europe and the US.

Japanese Immigration laws are more limited to European countries and the US because Japanese society has not accepted immigrants historically. After the crackdown of the bubble economy, the number of immigrants from Europe and the US dropped. However, globalization has been widespread today and immigrants have grown again while international companies come to open their brunches in Japan. The Japanese immigration system needs to be amended because we need to accept more immigrants than before.

In Japan, 24 percent of the population is over 65 years of age, and in 2055 this aged people is estimated as 40 percent of Japan’s total population. We will need more care workers and nurses. We already lack the number of care workers and nurses because these jobs are tough for long working time and heavy tasks. They have a low salary and they struggle to work as care workers and nurses. We need to foster more care workers and nurses and to give higher salary to them.

However, it is difficult for Japan government to use money for more public service because the government holds deficits financing for the pension. Therefore, Japanese government needs to invite more immigrants from Asian developing countries such as the Philippines and to foster immigrants to support our aging society. Especially, Filipino women can care well for elderly people because they have the culture to respect for elder people. Many Filipino women emigrates overseas such as in the US or the UK. They can speak English well and can adopt to an English-speaking environment.

In Japan, although Japan accepts many Filipino women with the skills of nurse or caregivers in the hospitals, Japan government mandates them to pass though each skill exam and Japanese proficiency exam. Because of it, many Filipino nurses or caregivers cannot pass through national qualifying exam and have to go back to their home country. However, they can study Japanese while communicating with patients after they can pass through their skill exam. I think that getting human resources is the urgent problem. The government needs to reconsider and deal with the aging society and the deficit finance for the pensions. Accepting immigrants is a good solution to aging society.

Reference
Komai, Hiroshi. 2000 “Immigrants in Japan. Asian And Pacific Migration Journal 9(3):311-326.

 

Immigrants Should be Commended for their Bravery

Anonymous student post

The attitude towards immigrants from nationals that I’ve most often seen is one of “you’re welcome.” As if the immigrant owes something to the national. The national presumably allows the immigrant to stay in their country. The immigrant is treated as a guest, and has higher standards in some regards held to him/her. An immigrant has legal barriers to overcome in almost every country. “You want to work here and help our society like a good citizen? Well we’re not going to make it easy for you, jobs are for citizens—never mind the merits of the job candidates!”

Immigrants have to be outcasts for their entire new life. Only their children, grandchildren or even beyond will get a more equal treatment in the eyes of their new society. Immigrants deal with discrimination on paper from the laws limiting immigrants rights, and tangibly in their day-to-day lives. Barnard mentions the attack on Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorean immigrant, who was stabbed to death in a hate crime. Barnard mentions, “Many [immigrants] fear the police because they are in the country illegally; some give false names…”. Dealing with prejudice effects the entire immigrant family negatively. The typical immigrant has many more issues to deal with than someone who is nationalized. They need to learn a new set of laws, adapt to new culture, and possibly learn a new language.

Immigrants should be commended for their bravery in leaving their home country to find a life in a new one. They deserve at the very least to be allowed to work in the new country. Why would we disallow someone from being a service to society? The idea that jobs are “taken” by immigrants is a negative aspect of immigration is comically ludicrous. Jobs are not a finite resource, and for each job that is taken there is less work to be done. Society will always naturally find a place for improvement, and new jobs wont ever stop being created. It is harmful to society as a whole to stipulate who can get a job on a basis outside of merit.

In the studies of bilingualism, Portes shows: “…fluent bilinguals [outperform] limited bilinguals and English-only students in standardized tests and grade point averages, even after statistically controlling for parental status and other variables.” Immigrants who are fluently bilingual have cognitive advantages that could further merit their place in the workforce. According to Rumbaut, 97% of the world’s population are “stayers” only about 3% are immigrants. The immigrant minority has a clear disadvantage and we should not have them thank us and beg us to stay. Rather, the immigrants should be commended for their ambition taking heed in a new country. When immigrants come to a country, they are suffering for the benefit of society. The nationals should be thanking the immigrants.

The solution to immigration through failure

by Alexander Austad

Immigrants in Norway make up for about 13% of the population in Norway, and it is estimated that this number will be nearly doubled by 2050.

Since the 1980’s, like many other countries, Norway has seen a huge increase in immigration, meaning that the issues that we are seeing with immigration are still very new. There are questions being asked left and right about how societies are supposed to deal with this, and these questions are naturally often related to jobs, cultural adaption, education and accommodation. Now, we need to figure this out, but it is not at all strange that we haven’t solved everything yet. In fact, it would be strange if we already had everything under control.

It’s amazing what has happened even just the last few years, as everything is changing all the time. It’s hard to keep up with everything, and we are always looking for answers to it all, and we want them as soon as possible, or now, preferably. This thirst (and need) for solutions mixed with something as delicate as immigration creates the part of politics that will leave you with the biggest headache, and as the problem of increasing immigrants is like a ticking clock, it breeds an infinite amount of different opinions. But we need solutions, right?

I’m not saying that we should just drop everything and take a break, but I find that some people’s attitude towards this issue imply that we should already have the answers, and hence that we are failing. We are indeed failing, but not because we should already have the answers. Have we, as mankind, gotten where we are today by intuitively making the right decisions on new issues from day one? No, we have been failing over and over again, and this issue of increasing immigration is no exception.

I just say we keep at it, and as a reply to the German chancellors uttering about German multiculturalism having utterly failed, I say great! Then we can rule out an option that didn’t work and work towards a new idea. This is awfully optimistic, but if you think that this issue should be solved by now, well, that’s just not realistic.

Since the world is so well connected now, we are able to learn from each other’s failure and success, and we see increasing trends in using models from other countries. I am sure we will see working models for immigration, multiculturalism and what have you, but we might have to keep on failing for a few more decades.

Language is the Key to Work

Anonymous student post

According to Rumbaut (2008), there at least 191 million people who are immigrants all around the world. But many of these immigrants work with low paid work, such as blue collar work, even though they may have a university degree. This blog post will mainly focus on Scandinavian immigrants who have higher education and have to accept a low paid work to earn money. What’s the reason behind this?

First I want to introduce a story about a taxi driver who immigrated to Scandinavia. This taxi driver is from Iran with an education in medicine, he was a general practitioner back in Iran but in this new country, he couldn’t get any job as a general practitioner. He applied to many hospitals, but no one replied. In the end he took a job as a taxi driver so he could support his family.

I don’t know if this is a true story or not, I just remember that I read this story in a newspaper one morning ages ago. The main point in this story is that if you can’t speak the language properly you will not be able to get a job that fits your education. This is also very true with second generation of immigrants. 1/5 of second-generation immigrants that attend a university don’t always find a job fit for their education, and are instead forced to take low-paid work. Why can’t the immigrants get higher-paid work? The answer, I think, lies in the language difference. If the immigrants can’t speak or write properly they have it harder to find a job that fits their education.

Many second-generation immigrants attending the university have a hard time using the language fluently (academic writing and speaking), because many of these people lack the advanced vocabulary of the language. Why? I think this is mainly because these immigrants don’t have the chance to use “advanced” words in their daily life, for example, they can perform a conversation with friends that have similar vocabulary, but rarely do they get the chance to use “advanced” words in a “normal” conversation. If they use an “advanced” word in a conversation with friends or family, they may not understand the word and ask for an explanation or a substitute for the word.

But is the language everything? For the taxi driver it meant the difference between low-paid and high-paid work. He couldn’t speak the language fluently and got low-paid work. This is one of the bad sides; the society misses a lot of valuable resources because the immigrants can’t speak the language fluently, and will probably never do either. From this, another question rises, how can the society take advantage of these highly skilled workers even though they don’t speak the language fluently?

Is multiculturalism really a “failure” in Germany?

by Michelle L.

In our class we came upon the quote of the German chancellor Angela Merkel: “multiculturalism has utterly failed”

Unfortunately we did not discuss about the backgrounds and the deeper meaning of this quote. In this post I would like to take a closer look on this topic.

Germany‘s migration image has been changing tremendously since the end of the second world war. As of 2011, 19.5% of the German population had some sort of immigration background, meaning either being born in a foreign country as a non-German citizen or born to a foreign-born parent in German with or without German citizenship. Nowadays, the largest share belongs to the Turkish community (18.5%), followed by Polish (9.2%).

After the second world war, Germany was in need of labour to rebuild the country. People were encouraged to come to Germany and work there. This applies mostly to Turkish immigrants to former West Germany and Vietnamese immigrants to the former GDR, as for being a fellow communist nation. The government did not invest in language training or did not provide any service to make it easier to adopt for the migrant workers, since they were only seen as temporary cheap labour or so-called Gastarbeiter. Gastarbeiter is a German term for immigrant workers who came to Germany between the end of the war and the 1970s. Literally meaning “guest worker”, it refers to the temporary contracts after which the immigrant workers were supposed to return. In recent times this word got quite a negative connotation.

However, many people stayed and brought their family to Germany or married a German spouse. The government was not prepared for this. Since there literally was no effort in integrating the immigrants, those people were tolerated but not integrated in society. This continued for quite some time and the government somehow missed the turning point of Germany becoming a migration country.

Whereas other cities have a “China Town”, parts of Berlin seem like a Turkish parallel world. Even though some families are staying in Germany for the 3rd or 4th generation, many of them keep close ties to their home country and mixed slangs developed.

However, I do not think that multiculturalism has failed – it is the government who failed in creating opportunities to integrate immigrants into German society. It was only in 2005 that Germany introduced compulsory German language courses to immigrants, in case that the do not have sufficient knowledge of German to work. Moreover bilingual primary education only focusses on languages like French, Spanish and English. Most immigrant children therefore attend a regular school, where teachers are not prepared for them. This creates an environment where it is difficult for them to adopt. Since some districts in Berlin have a very dense immigrant population, people are more likely to stay in there national group.

I see Germany, my home country, as a multicultural society. Growing up in Berlin, I shared my class room with people from many different backgrounds. 24% of Berlin’s residents have a migration background and events in Berlin like “Carneval of Cultures” attract thousands of peoples. This percentage is still quite small compared to cities like Frankfurt (am Main), the heart of Germany’s financial sector and the most important international airport in Germany. The city is home to 42% of residents with immigration background.

Nevertheless, many “native” Germans are hostile towards immigrants. As of 2008, a survey found out that 53% think that “Germany has too many immigrants” and 50% think that immigrants like to stay along their fellows. In recent years, attacks on refugee homes increased and the National Democratic Party of Germany (a far-right German nationalist party) still manages to get many votes by promoting to “send all foreigners home”. Even though they were not able take part in any federal government, they are still active on a local level.

Recently, realizing the problem of demographic change (aging society) and the lack of high-skilled workers marked a shift in Germany’s immigration policies. However, it seems like the government is always only approving of immigration if it is in need. I hope that this attitude will change and Germany’s growing multicultural society will be seen as a benefit of our country.

References:
1) BBC News. “Merkel says German multicultural society has failed”. 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11559451
2) Abalı, Oya. “German Public Opinion on Immigration and Integration”. 2009. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/tcm-germanpublicopinion.pdf
3) Statistisches Bundesamt. “Bevölkerung mit Migrationshintergrund – Ergebnisse des Mikrozensus”. 2011. https://www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/Bevoelkerung/MigrationIntegration/Migrationshintergrund.html

Not American Enough?

 by Dina Akylbekova

One month ago tabloids headlines were dedicated to the Miss America 2014 winner Nina Davuluri. Davuluri became the first Indian-American, who won Miss America. The next few hours there were thousands of racist and xenophobic comments like “If you’re #Miss America you should have to be American”” or “Even Miss America has been outsourced to India. #NinaDavuluri!” (Syracuse, 2013). People posting comments like this do think that winner of Miss America 2014 represents American culture and values. The important point here is that the girl was born and has lived all her life in the USA. Is she still not American enough? Despite this, Nina said “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.” Why spending her whole life in the US, with American citizenship, American education and self-perception as American are not enough for her to be considered a “real” American? Or is the problem that Davuluri does not look “American”. Do Asian and African descents have a right to view himself/herself as a “true” American, even if they do not look “American”?

The described situation confirms the fail of multiculturalism in America. Today Asian Americans comprise almost 6% of the US population (Pew Research Center, 2010). Almost quarter of all Asian American children were born in the US (Pew Research Center, 2010). Unfortunately, the racist backlash shows that even integrated Asian Americans are not considered “Americans”.

If the reader thinks that this happens only in America, there is a proof that this happens on the other side of the world as well. The next destination is Russia. Elmira Abdrazakova became Miss Russia 2013, the fact that the girl is half-Russian and half-Tatar (ethnic minority in Russia) was a starting point for the racist and nationalist backlash against the winner (The Atlantic, 2013). An additional fact against Abdrazakova was that the she was born in Kazakhstan. Elmira thinks that she fully represents a multiethnic and multicultural Russia (There are 180 ethnicities in Russian federation). However, nationalists probably do not know that Russia is a multiethnic country and continue to resist by saying that Abdrazakova is not Slavic enough.

Both Miss America 2014 and Miss Russia received a huge amount of racist comments concerning their ethnicities. Both the USA and Russia are officially claiming to be multicultural and multiethnic countries, where every ethnicity is respected. The reality shows the fail of tolerance, multiculturalism and multiethnicity in these societies. One can argue that racism in beauty contests is a routine part of these events. But in the reality, beauty contests show whether society is ready to accept other ethnicities beauty on the equal level as the native one. Will the situation change or ethnical minority titleholders would be blamed for being not American or Slavic enough?

French citizenship or the anti-communitarianism

by Marin Enault

By studying immigration in the United States, I noticed how much the vision of the migrants was different compared with France’s vision. The history of both countries being completely different, it seems that it influences the conception of the immigration. It seems interesting to compare sociologically these two ideologies as well as their result.

Countries as the United States, Australia or New Zealand built themselves thanks to the colonizing immigrants. This special past is important in the idea which these countries have of immigration: Immigration is always massive, wished, checked and presented as a strength. The multicultural society of the United States is described as a wealth, responding to a logic of market.

The public policies that control the immigration’s flow according to certain criteria: countries, languages, professional qualifications… This “chosen” immigration policy entails the creation of ethnic communities, sharing the same characteristics. In the US we can speak about South American, Asian or Black communities, which are themselves divided into an infinity of national or cultural communities. It is a large-scale communitarianism: the immigrants live parallel existences while sharing the same nationality.

European countries, in particular France, have a different immigration culture. Even if the number of immigrants is important (nearly 160,000/year), France sees the communitarianism as something bad, as a failure of the integration. Partially because this country is the heir of a long republican tradition, France pursues the dream of “republican messianism”: the French nation is one and indivisible: the origin, the color and the culture of an emigrant disappear since he becomes French. So the French state refuses to see ethnic communities on its territory, simply French citizens, without any other criterion of distinction.

To describe this ideal, Ernest Renan spoke about a “national project”, a nation based on the “will to live together”. However, today this myth seems unrealistic : it seems that the French nation, in spite of its historic will, does not integrate any more her immigrants as well as the native-born French people. Although the theory of the communitarianism is always refused by the political elite, ethnic groupings nevertheless built up themselves. The migrants, due to the lack of economic integration, live in the same poor suburbs areas. The myth of a “French-style” citizenship collapsed: the secularism loses its sense when the school holidays are based on the Christian calendar while in certain high schools the majority of the students are Muslim.

France always ideologically refused the creation of subgroups within the French citizenship, however it turns out that the economic reality does not allow any more the same integration for all.

To convince itself, it is enough to look at the exam’s results of the Parisians elite’s high schools compares to the very close high schools, considered as difficult, where the students are mainly sons of immigrants. Not recognizing communitarianism doesn’t makes it disappear, quite the contrary.

References

Costa-Lascoux, Jacqueline : « L’intégration « à la française » : une philosophie à l’épreuve des réalités »

Renan, Ernest. « What is a Nation? »