National and Transnational identities: Turkish identity in Denmark, Sweden and Germany

Project Details


Among several challenges for the European nation states issues of citizenship and integration stand out as some of the most important. Increasing active civic participation is of crucial value for the democratic development of contemporary Europe. Participation in civil society through voluntarily organisation and associations can thus be considered as a key factor for the functioning of civil society as well as serving as important supplement to the state and reproducing democratic culture by bringing new claims, values and ideas forth in the public sphere. Thus organisational engagement can be a vehicle for active citizenship but may also lead to resistance towards constraining notions of national identity, integration and excluding structures as it can create a platform for new types of claims making and identity positions. Collective identities are both allocated by the host state through its political and discursive opportunity structures but can also be challenged by the organisations and individuals through news types of claims-making. Although the institutional arrangements, in this case the citizenship regimes and integration policies are decisive for both the organisational form that immigrant organisations will accommodate to and the claims allowed into the political decision-making process, the ability to penetrate these structures in order to defend their interests and raise new claims should also be recognized. This type of civil engagement will at some times, and probably most often, be taking place within the nation-state but at other occasions it will be directed at a cross-national or transnational level. It is this understanding of the interrelationship between the institutional arrangements, civil society and immigrant organisational forms that sets the backdrop this dissertation.

The overall aim of my dissertation is to investigate how persons with a Turkish background individually and collectively construct identity and positions themselves in Denmark, Sweden and Germany – in short to investigate how Turkish immigrant identity is being negotiated within the sphere of the nation-state in three different European countries. My set-off is the assumption that such a negotiation is framed by structural legalistic and political limitations regarding rights, obligations and membership.

  • How can the Danish, Swedish and German integration-regime be conceptualised within a theoretical citizenship perspective?
  • And what consequences do the specific models have for the construction of immigrant identity among Turks in the three countries, e.g. how is the well integrated subject defined?

Furthermore I investigate how immigrant organising processes are impacted by these structures and how immigrant organisations potentially can affect and challenge the notion and processes of integration. Immigrant organisations can be understood as the expression of mobilised resources and ambitions that can seek to alter the conditions for integration. While the institutional arrangements may be said to determine the opportunities and scope of actions for organisations, then individuals can mobilise and change the landscape of organisations and if successful contribute to significant changes in the structural and institutional arrangements.

  • How the political and discursive opportunity does structures impact on immigrant organising processes?

A final but none the less important assumption is that the transgression of the national border in regards to claims-making can offer a new field for the negotiation of identity which can be summarised as a transnational perspective.

  • To what degree national policies have fostered the conditions for organisational claims-making and for transnational networks/spaces?
  • To what degree do such networks play a role for integration processes and for the construction of immigrant identity?
  • Do transnational claims challenge national fixed notions of integration?
Effective start/end date21/02/200522/07/2008


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  • Transnationalism, political opportunity structures, social construction of identity, integration


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