Chapter 20: Tales of the cities: local-level approaches to migrant integration in Europe, the USA and Canada
The issue of how and how well migrant-origin residents fit and are fitted into economic, social, cultural and political life has moved to the forefront of official preoccupations in Europe and North America. This process of migrant integration cannot help but implicate social policy systems: they encompass the sectors that directly and indirectly affect migrants’ living conditions and participation in receiving-country institutions. Each of the so-called host societies has devised a mix of policies and non-policies. Even if they do not add up to a systematic, coherent approach, these integration ‘regimes’, like welfare states themselves, are habitually taken to imply national models (Ireland 2014). The underlying assumption is that migrants face a cohesive and bounded host society. Cities often have their own distinctive strategies, however, and their importance and room for maneuver have grown over time. Concomitant with the rise in prominence of the local dimension of integration and social policy in Europe, the USA and Canada has been an accelerating accumulation of academic work on the subject. How have scholars of migration attempted to understand and explain this multifaceted phenomenon? This chapter aims to answer that question. First, the reasons for moving below the national level warrant brief consideration. The development and current state of the literature on local-level migrant integration on both sides of the Atlantic are then traced. A number of valuable lessons have been learned from the ‘local turn’ in research.
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