This article evaluates the credo ‘integration while maintaining one's identity’ with the help of psychological arguments. First, it explores the requirements of being a good citizen in a liberal democracy. Following Rawls, we state that justice is the cardinal liberal virtue and that this virtue includes having the disposition to respect the rights of all citizens equally. It then investigates psychological theories about identity and the relation between culture and identity. We focus on the distinction between collectivistic cultures and an interdependent self-concept on the one hand and individualistic cultures and an independent self-concept on the other. We come to the conclusion that the development into a good citizen of a liberal democracy cannot be combined with the full preservation of an interdependent self-concept. Further, we argue that the state has the right and the duty to offer civic education to all pupils, even if this means that the development of an inter-dependent self-concept of children from particular immigrant groups will be hampered. © 2004, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.