Real integration takes time

My post on the COMPAS blog, on the tenth anniversary of the Northern milltown riots and David Cameron’s recent immigration speech. Extract:

[…] In April, when David Cameron made his major speech on migration, I found myself heading to Brick Lane to be interviewed by Newsnight, to talk about integration. Although my segment was lost in the cut, taking the time out made me reflect on some of the issues I’ve been writing about here.

I was struck by the narrowness of the debate and the way its parameters have been set by those events in 2001. In contrast, the academic literature, as well as the European Union policy debate, sees integration as a complex process, which takes place in a number of different spheres of life: migrants’ participation in the labour market, social interaction and civic involvement, for example, as well as cultural integration, shared values or a sense of belonging. In Britain, though, it is only these last aspects which tend to make it into the debate.

Thus, the prime minister was right to point to the ways in which charities, financial services, fashion, food and music have been shaped by migrants, but it is important to be clear that these are examples of integration too, and not something separate.[…]

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About bengidley

Senior Lecturer at the School of Social Science, History and Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. View all posts by bengidley

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