Immigrant Integration and Social Solidarity in a Time of Crisis: Europe and the United States in a Postwelfare State
Critical Historical Studies 1:2 (Fall 2014), Pp. 215-253.
39 Pages Posted: 24 Oct 2014 Last revised: 17 Feb 2015
Date Written: October 23, 2014
A cloud has settled over the immigration regimes of the European welfare states and the United States. Confidence has waned in the viability and value of integrating newcomers into a system of social solidarity. The weakening of civic nationalism and secular constitutional patriotism has unsettled national identities and undermined efforts to facilitate the inclusion of immigrants, especially Muslims. More forceful integration policies might better sustain the welfare state, but individual liberties and group recognition make this more difficult. Ironically, immigrants may now fare better in more unjust neoliberal societies such as the United States than in the advanced welfare states. This essay looks at Europe (Germany in particular) and the United States to assess recent developments. Current arrangements are inadequate to resolve the dual crisis of integration and solidarity at the very moment that social equality is increasingly undermined by fiscal crises and aggressive neoliberal social policies.
The article examines literature from a range of social science, law, and history literatures to ask: what social solidarity and the welfare state require and restrict; what the future past of secularism, nationalism, and superordinate identities might be; and what policies might ameliorate the weakened nexus of welfare state, identity, and integration.
The article concludes that under current political and economic circumstances, the task of creating an open and more capacious “we” requires not the dilution of membership’s meaning but rather the very social equality whose foundations and mechanisms immigration itself challenges. At a time when that social equality is increasingly undermined by fiscal crises and aggressive neoliberal advances, the integration of immigrants into the evolving national community should be seen as a key defense, a critical element in the construction of social solidarity and the ability to fight back.
Keywords: immigration, welfare state, solidarity, integration, capitalism, neoliberalism, secularism, culture, multiculturalism
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