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Is There a Trade-off between Multiculturalism and Socio-Political Integration? Policy Regimes and Immigrant Incorporation in Comparative Perspective

  • Matthew Wright (a1) and Irene Bloemraad (a2)

Across immigrant-receiving democracies on both sides of the Atlantic, policies of “cultural recognition” (e.g., “multiculturalism”) have become a convenient punching-bag for political elites. Among academics, heated theoretical debates exist over whether such policies foster or hinder immigrants' engagement with their adoptive nation. We provide a novel empirical assessment of this debate from the immigrant perspective. We ask how multicultural and citizenship policies influence immigrants' socio-political engagement with their adoptive nation in three realms: social inclusion, political inclusion, and political engagement. Using a variety of cross-national and single-country surveys, we show that multiculturalism in no case hinders engagement with society and government, and in many cases seems to foster it. Thus, the claim that multiculturalism undermines immigrants' socio-political integration appears largely without foundation.

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