Philosophies of integration? Elite views on citizenship policies in Scandinavia
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Research on the ‘civic turn’ in European citizenship policies suggests that concerns over immigrant integration have fueled the restrictive development of citizenship policies in recent decades. However, few efforts have been made to explore the normative ideas underlying this development. Departing from Favell’s (1998) influential concept of ‘philosophies of integration’, this article draws on elite-interviews with top-level bureaucrats, politicians and citizenship experts in the Scandinavian countries and explores how ideas about nationhood and integration have influenced the divergence in citizenship policies in the region, and what overall purpose the policy-changes reflect. We find that, especially in Denmark, the gradual introduction of ever more demanding civic integration requirements appears to be a part of the broader aim of controlling the inflow of migrants and not to enhance the integration of those already present in the country. Conversely, the Swedish liberal approach to citizenship, which regularly has been analyzed as a steppingstone to societal integration, might in reality have been a reflection of benign neglect. In Norway, immigrant integration has clearly been part of the underlying rationale for changes in naturalization requirements, yet the control dimension have played an increasingly important role. These findings suggests that, although the citizenship institution remains important in nation states’ efforts to solve their ‘ethnic dilemmas’, the underlying rationale behind policy-change is more multifaceted than previously understood.