‘Against Immigrant Integration?’ A review of the logics of recognition among the ‘mainstream’ and the populist radical right in Europe

Against Immigrant Integration

In September 2018, the Comparative Migration Studies journal published an article written by Willem Schinkel, titled Against ‘immigrant integration’: For an end to neo-colonial knowledge production. The piece is a provocative critique of the canon of immigrant integration research which suggests that social science needs to evolve and reconceive of ideas surrounding immigrant integration and society.

In a review of this pivotal piece, Josefin Graef contributes to ongoing scholarly and political debate on the subject by analysing the logic of recognition that shapes the mainstream and populist radical right (PRR) perceptions of ‘immigrant integration’ in Europe.

In doing so, it links a radical critique of ‘immigrant integration’ imaginaries, recently revived by scholars in the field of Migration Studies, to the conceptualisation of the PRR as a growing political movement that seeks to radicalise mainstream norms.

Taking the core insights of Taylor and Honneth’s classical work on the struggle for recognition as its starting point, Graef illustrates how PRR attitudes to ‘immigrant integration’ emerge from, rather than simply oppose, mainstream norms. This concerns in particular the centrality of the nation state, the focus on control, and the location of deviant behaviour outside ‘society’. Against this background, the author suggests ways for re-approaching ‘integration’ precisely at a time when these norms are becoming increasingly politicised in the context of new immigration dynamics in Europe.

Download the working paper here.

Keywords: Recognition, Immigrant Integration, Mainstream, Populist Radical Right

Josefin Graef is a scholar of deviant and deviantised politics and a former post-doctoral research fellow for the Dahrendorf Forum at the Hertie School in Berlin.