Migrant mobilization and political opportunities: variation among german cities and regions in cross-national perspective

R. Koopmans

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    This paper offers a comparative, cross-local and cross-national analysis of the involvement of migrants and ethnic minorities in public debates and mobilisation (claims-making) in their countries of residence. Local and national integration and citizenship regimes are seen as political opportunity structures that may stimulate, constrain, or channel the degrees and types of migrants' political involvement. Empirically, the paper draws on media content data for Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, as well as on extra-medial indicators of opportunity structures such as naturalisation rates and the relative strength of conservative parties. In a first round of analysis, 16 German regions and cities are compared. This analysis reveals important intra-local differences that are in line with the expectations drawn from the opportunity structure model. The results show a strong and consistent positive relation between the inclusiveness of local incorporation regimes and the degree to which immigrants participate proactively in public debates on issues concerning them. By contrast, we find political orientations on the countries of origin of immigrants to be most prevalent in localities that offer immigrants few channels of access to the decision-making process and grant them little legitimacy in the public domain. In a second step, this analysis is extended to the Netherlands and the UK, showing that the magnitude of cross-national differences is much more important than that of local variation within each of the countries. Thus, the results contradict recently popular views that the nation-state has become largely irrelevant for the incorporation of immigrants and that postnational and local contexts have become decisive. © 2004 Taylor and Francis Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)449-470
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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