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Identity, Policy, and the Political Incorporation of Immigrants in Dublin and Madrid

Molles, Elitsa (2015) Identity, Policy, and the Political Incorporation of Immigrants in Dublin and Madrid. [Conference Proceedings] (Submitted)

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    Introduction: This paper attempts to address some of the gaps left by migration scholarship by making three principal contributions. First, the article explores the role of culture and identity in both immigrant reception and political participation. The emphasis is on political incorporation, as integration in the political sphere is the best weapon that foreign populations have against heightened discrimination, limited access to economic resources, or social isolation. In particular, the project surveys how the identity characteristics of foreign populations interact with these of the host society to produce perceptions of either difference or similarity and contribute to the welcome or rejection of the newcomers. The paper also studies the role of culture in the formation of immigrants’ own perceptions of belonging or exclusion in receiving communities. Finally, the project explores the correlation between identity and immigrants’ political incorporation. The focus is placed on how the creating of and exercise of political rights is influenced by the host society’s identity-based inclusion-exclusion discourse and the immigrants’ own notions of belonging or isolation. Consequently, and second, the project takes immigrant agency into account. While foreign populations often face powerful obstacles to truly belonging in their new home, they can still make choices and determine their own destiny. Third, the paper studies the significance of culture for immigrant political incorporation in the new immigration spaces of Dublin and Madrid. The role of culture and identity is explored for four case studies, namely those of Poles and Nigerians in Dublin and Bulgarians and Ecuadorians in Madrid, with emphasis on the local level. Despite similar economic and immigration trajectories in the 1990s, Spain and Ireland have attracted very different foreign populations. European Poles, and as of late Romanians, continue to dominate immigration inflows in Ireland, although Nigerians and Filipinos register a major presence (CSO 2012). A majority of immigrants from Latin America choose Spain as their destination, but Moroccans, Romanians and Bulgarians favor the receiving country as well (INE 2010). These foreign cohorts meet with different dynamics of welcome or rejection, especially on level of the city. East Europeans are generally welcomed in Ireland, even if exploited in the labor market, while non-European nationals are severely marginalized (Kelbie 2006; ICI 2008). The diverse immigrant population in Spain met with tolerance and empathy initially, yet is struggling in the receiving country today due to economic contraction (Arango 2013). Dublin and Madrid are also the home of varying levels of ability and willingness for immigrants to exercise their political rights. While the Nigerian community in Dublin exhibits relatively high levels of civic mobilization, for instance, political integration is obstructed by institutional and individual discrimination. Generally apathetic Poles are being drawn into the political process by eager political parties (for ex., Fanning 2011). Bulgarians and Romanians are neither interested in nor solicited for electoral participation in Madrid. However, cultural and historical connections enhance political access for a number of Latin American groups regardless of their non-EU citizenship status (for ex., Perez and Fuentes 2012). How identity and culture figure into these variations is of particular interest of this paper. The argument proceeds as follows: after a brief literature review, the theoretical framework and research methods are outlined. In the ensuing section, the four case studies are introduced. Local discourses of exclusion, immigrants’ perceptions of belonging, and political incorporation outcomes are discussed in turn. The conclusion points to some interesting findings.

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    Item Type: Conference Proceedings
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > Ireland
    Countries > Spain
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2015 (14th), March 4-7, 2015
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2018 17:02
    Number of Pages: 25
    Last Modified: 06 Mar 2018 17:02

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