The “migrant with poor prospects”: racialized intersections of class and culture in Dutch civic integration debates

Saskia Bonjour & Jan Willem Duyvendak in Ethnic and Racial Studies (open access)

KEYWORDS: Civic integration, class, racialization, immigration policy, Netherlands, political discourse

The recent trend towards selective immigration policies is based on the racialization of certain categories of migrants into irretrievably unassimilable Others. In Europe, this trend has materialized largely through the application of integration requirements to the immigration of foreigners, the so-called “civic integration turn”. Based on an analysis of parliamentary debates about civic integration policies in the Netherlands, this paper asks which migrants are considered likely or unlikely to integrate based on which presumed characteristics. We find that Dutch civic integration policies aim at barring “migrants with poor prospects”. In sharp contrast with a long history of Dutch social policies, politicians deny state responsibility for migrants’ emancipation based on a discursive racialization of these migrants as unassimilable. While class has hitherto been largely ignored in the literature on migration and the politics of belonging, we show that class, intersecting with culture and gender, is key in this process of racialization. READ

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