National and Transnational Identities : Turkish Organising Processes and Identity Construction in Denmark, Sweden and Germany
Publication: Research › Ph.d. thesis
In recent decades international migration has become a worldwide phenomenon. The novelty is not migration as such, but rather the challenges recent migration has created for the modern nation-state and in particular for the welfare state. Thus Brochmann points out that in earlier times receiving countries had time to wait for settlers to assimilate slowly over history, whereas modern welfare states of today do not have time for this due to the dynamics and expenses of the welfare system itself (Brochmann, 2003: 6-7; Schierup et al., 2006). The individual nation-states have been pushed to develop models of incorporation that can handle this challenge. In substantive terms the aim of my dissertation is firstly to identify the integration and citizenship regimes in Denmark, Sweden and Germany, secondly to investigate how these influence the organising processes and collective identity constructions within the Turkish minority in the three countries with special attention to the influence of transnational social transformation.
Social communities and organisations such as trade unions, political parties or religious and cultural association have usually been ascribed the capability to enhance relations between individuals and to extend trust, values, identity and social belonging. Whether we focus on the individual and the value of face to face contact or we focus on the role of the organisation as an intervening institution between the state, the political system and the citizen in strengthening democracy, such types of engagement also will have an effect on the processes of integration of immigrants in the host society. The Dutch researchers Meindert Fennema & Jean Tillie have in relation to this claim stated quite provocatively that: “To have undemocratic ethnic organisations is better for the democratic process than to have no organisations at all” (Fennema & Tillie, 1999: 723; italics in original). Their conclusion rests on Putnam’s investigation on American participation in civil society but especially concerns ethnic organisations. Exactly the study of ethnic organisations and what previously was captured in the heading ‘identity politics’ (Bernstein, 2005) holds a central role in the present study. Associational participation is on one hand a vehicle for active citizenship but can on the other hand also be a site for expressing dissatisfaction and hereby be a platform for new types of claims-making and social identities. Subsequently, such engagement can be a way of opposing dominant perceptions of integration and national identity. An urgent research question occurs in relation to this discussion, namely if ethno-national identities and sustained and consistent ties to the homeland have a promoting or disrupting effect on societal integration?
The research within the field of international migration and ethnic relations is abundant. In Chapter 2 I present a state of the art review and here seek to structure the existing literature and situate my own approach and furthermore point to the research gaps which the literature despite the volume still displays. One of the central points in this regards, is that studies of well-integrated groups disappear within the vast range of studies focusing on marginalised and segregated groups. One of the ambitions with this study is to investigate the organising processes and internal dynamics within non-marginalised groups.
The dissertation is structured around three interconnected parts. The first part is a macro analysis of the integration- and citizenship policies in Denmark, Sweden and Germany that will be analysed within a theoretical framework looking at the dynamics between concepts as citizenship, integration and political and discursive opportunity structures.
Secondly I investigate the interplay between the particular opportunity structures and collective organising processes among Turks in the three chosen countries. In doing so one I revisit the fundamental sociological question of the relationship between structure and agency.
Thirdly I examine how transnational social formations and transnational identification effect established perceptions of incorporation (here primarily integration and assimilation) from both an empirical and theoretical perspective.
Subsequently, I employ a dual comparative research strategy. Firstly by looking at internal organisational differences within each national setting and secondly by comparing the three national cases.
The first part of the analysis as mentioned looks at the national opportunity structures. This part of the analysis rests on a theoretical framework originally proposed by Koopmans & Statham (2000). Their framework breaches with earlier macro-level models of incorporation by conceptualising such models as having both a cultural and political dimension which together constitute a two-dimensional space for reconfiguring citizenship. This presents a far more dynamic and nuanced model that avoids falling into the trap of over-generalising complex national models as examples to be solely assimilatory or multicultural. This framework also contains its own limitations however. The impact of the socio-economical context escapes the model for instance. The same does the relation between integration, citizenship and welfare policies. Furthermore the model cannot incorporate transnational affiliations adequately. The model in this sense suffers from focusing primarily on the nation-state as analytical object and therefore has difficulties in containing and explaining affiliations that transgresses this. In Chapter 3 the different points of criticism are systematised and the framework is elaborated with a number of analytical tools which makes it possible also to understand transnational social formations and identifications in relation to the opportunity structure approach.
The analysis of the Danish, Swedish and German integration- and citizenship regimes is treated in three separate chapters (Chapter 5, 6 and 7). The respective analyses show that historical trajectories still contain some explanation when seeking to understand current integration- and citizenship regimes. Especially the Swedish model displays pronounced stability in the political development of integration policies. Hence, it is no surprise that Sweden was the first (and so far only) among the three countries to facilitate dual citizenship as this lies in prolongation of the previous development. Conversely do the analyses of the Danish and German case show that models are not static. Denmark followed Sweden shortly after in introducing local voting rights for non-citizens and generally non-citizens enjoy considerable political, social and civic rights. Nonetheless Denmark has especially since the change of government in 2001 taken a very restrictive direction and today has one the most restrictive models within EU when it comes to access to naturalisation and family reunification. The German model has oppositely moved from being a prototypical example on an ethno-cultural model with limited access to citizenship and few rights for foreigners, to today holding one of the least restrictive jus soli models within EU. Today the German and Danish models actually have become rather close. Such a change of trajectory within a relatively short span of years demonstrates that even grounded historical models are malleable; contrary to what Brubaker’s otherwise seminal analysis seems to suggest. Therefore path-dependencies may not explain everything adequately. There is little doubt that once a regime has started down a given path which becomes consolidated in institutions the costs of reversal become higher as time goes, but nevertheless this is exactly what has happened. Here the explanation rests on other factors such as the impact of global economic processes and attempts to reduce segregation end hereby strengthen social cohesion.
The analyses also show that all three countries (like many other European countries) display a high degree of convergence. The countries have for instance implemented neo-liberal instruments and today emphasise duties over rights, have introduced civic integration tests and other things. Sweden somewhat deviates from this pattern but still there is a noticeable degree of convergence across Europe. This has made some researchers as Christian Joppke reject the value and relevance of national models (Joppke, 2007); the impact of increased Europeanisation is simply too big Joppke claims. Koopmans & Statham contrary show how employing a more subtle theoretical framework still makes it possible to capture national differences. My own position lies in continuation of this discussion, hence I argue that it still is fruitful to pay attention to distinct national models but that the theoretical models must be re-examined and made to encompass transnational formations as argued above.
The data material that is used in the analysis of collective organising processes in relation to the national opportunity structures consists of qualitative interviews with spokespersons and regular members from different Turkish organisations, expert interviews and material from the organisations themselves and public media. The material and the methodological approach and consequences hereof are discussed in Chapter 4. Chapter 8 and 9 presents an analysis of the organising processes and of collective identity constructions. A general conclusion is that the opportunity and incentive structures clearly affect collective identities and the organising processes of the Turkish minority groups within in the three countries. The analysis shows that the immigrant organisations adapt to the structural limitations and claims and identities are negotiated within the available arena. This creates a great deal of convergence even where the organisational landscape as such is more fragmented. Summarising I will claim that claims-making that is perceived to lead nowhere disappear over time which strengthen the tendency of convergence further. The systems with corporatist elements have managed to steer organising processes into specific direction, e.g. along ethnic lines in Sweden. Germany has developed a combination of a corporatist and statist approach and until recently sought to incorporate immigrants through the existing institutions, here especially through the welfare organisations. Recently Germany has tried to systematise the incorporation through new integration initiatives and most federal states today have equivalents to the Ausländerbeauftragte in Berlin. The Danish case presents a no less complex setting, mixing elements of as well corporatist, statist and liberal approaches. Emphasis is here put on the immigrant as first and foremost an individual rather than as member of a group. Hence, there are no incentives for organising along ethnic lines. On the other hand Denmark has a long tradition for supporting civil society organisations and ethnic minorities in this sense have a favourable situation for establishing organisations while at the same time being without substantial influence. The different approaches have particular effects on how the immigrant organisations are included and situated in the integration process. In Sweden integration activities are mainly directed by the state and professionals except for the activities taken against discrimination. In Denmark such activities are funded by the state that also decides the framework and field of activities but the task of doing integration works constitutes one of the openings for ethnic minorities in terms of career paths. In Germany the integration activities are increasingly being pushed over to the immigrant organisations which now share the role of being service providers together with the welfare organisations, which also stipulates increased competition.
The analysis also shows that the opportunity structure framework can explain the convergences in the organising processes very convincingly but has more difficulties in explaining the divergences. One of the explanations is that divergence often is related to transnational engagement. The maintenance of transnational ties challenges the conventional models of integration which also shows up in the study of opportunity structures. Chapter 10 investigates the conditions and explanations on transnational social formations and engagement. Some of the main conclusions are firstly; that the settlement countries themselves have an impact on the type and strength of transnational identification. In this way favourable incentive structures to ethnic minorities, including the Kurdish one, have created a better platform for organisational participation which has conditioned that a large share of the Kurdish cultural and political activities on a European level originate from Sweden.
Secondly; it is doubtful if transnational engagement can be generalised without taking the particular conditions into content. Here Turkey’s own citizenship regime and lack of recognition and entitlement of rights to ethnic and religious minorities have an important impact. Moreover Turkey’s relation to the European Union and status of being accepted candidacy country has put forth a situation where EU now stands as a potential platform for criticism and claim-making. The Kurdish, Assyrian and Alevi organising processes are good examples on this situation.
Thirdly; the analysis shows that transnational strategies have become a common tool within the collective organising processes. Immigrants today make use of multi-levelled institutional channels and may have multiple agendas, with for instance some activities pursued at local level and others at international level and likewise have specific claims for the city council and other claims addressed at the European Parliament for instance.
Finally; and this will stand as a conclusion, the analysis arguably shows that transnational engagement of Turks (and not immigrants as such) not is a rare phenomenon, rather a general characteristic but the type, degree and purpose vary immensely. In prolongation of this statement it will probably be too constraining to understand transnational affiliation only as a characteristic of ethnic minority identity as also majority society is in the midst of transnationalising. Transnational engagement however, does not necessarily stand in contrast to societal integration either which put forth a theoretical challenge. Even though transnationalism (in its various forms) not is a new phenomenon the research perspective definitely is a more recent contribution. Both the empirical and theoretical analysis therefore point to the necessity in reassessing the existing conceptual models of incorporation in adequately understanding the incorporation of newcomers in society.
 When referring to Turks I regard the contextual term Turks as a general category of people within/from Turkey which include Kurds, Alevis and other regional self-identifications such as Circassians, Laz and Assyrians. During the analysis I emphasise the heterogeneity within the Turkish minority and various sub-categories are dealt with in individual analyses.
|Place of publication||Aalborg University|
|Publisher||Institut for Historie, Internationale Studier og Samfundsforhold, Aalborg Universitet|
|Number of pages||434|
|Name||Spirit PhD Series|
- Immigrant organisations, transnationalism, integration, social identity, political opportunity structures