The participation paradox : demand for and fear of immigrant participation
Klarenbeek, L. M., & Weide, M. (2020). The participation paradox : demand for and fear of immigrant participation. Critical Policy Studies, 14(2), 214-232. https://doi.org/10.1080/19460171.2019.1569540
Published inCritical Policy Studies
© 2019 the Author(s)
In this paper, we address the ambivalence in European immigrant integration discourses toward the political participation of immigrants. We show how this ambivalence manifests in what we call a ‘participation paradox’, which is constituted by two apparently conflicting, but potentially mutually reinforcing characteristics of the discourse. The first emphasizes the need for immigrants to be active in order to attain a well-integrated society and well-functioning democratic polity; the second is a call for the protection of liberal democratic institutions from the alleged ‘illiberal threats’ that migrants pose to society. Immigrant participation is thus both demanded and feared. Using illustrations from Denmark, we show two different ways in which this paradox plays out in practice: i) the fear of participation results in debates around the general desirability of immigrant participation; and ii) the perceived threat of ‘undesired participation’ reinforces the demand for immigrants to be ‘good’ citizens by participating in a ‘civic’ way. In these cases, the content of immigrant participation is discursively restricted. We end the paper by exploring the consequences of the paradox in terms of the democratic position of immigrants. ...