Universitet 2018 – fira med oss

Utskrift från Malmö universitets webbplats www.mah.se

The Migration Seminar: Rescuing ‘nationalism’ for the study of immigrant integration – A theoretical perspective

Tid: 2018-09-27 14:15 -- 2018-09-27 16:00
Plats: MIM seminar room C0929, 9th floor, Niagara, Nordenskiöldsgatan 1, Malmö University
Målgrupp: Researchers, graduate students and all others interested

Rescuing ‘nationalism’ for the study of immigrant integration – A theoretical perspective

Per MProf. Per Mouritsen

Guest Professor in Memory of Willy Brandt at MIM, Malmö University and Professor of Political Science at Aarhus University, Denmark



Migration studies scholars quarrel about the significance of nationalism and national identity as a causal factor for immigration and integration policy. Early theorists of post-nationalism such as Yasemin Soysal argued that assimilation was increasingly unnecessary, politically discredited, and futile in the face of supranational human rights norms and de facto welfare state rights for denizens. A harder version (Christian Joppke) finds post-nationalism, not in a successful ‘Social Europe,’ but in the converging forces of global neoliberalism and enlightenment norms, whereby national citizenship (and social citizenship) becomes increasingly inconsequential. States converge around similar civic integration policies, which may well be pursued in the name of national values, but fail to either ‘name the particular’ or circumvent European antidiscrimination legislation. Instead they reflect the wishes of increasingly modernized and secular electorates to have ‘liberal states for liberal people only’, a ‘liberalism as identity’, which is not nationalism. Other scholars, of a more critical bent, continue to stress the significance of nationalistic mobilizations, which tab a majority ethnic sense of cultural loss and alienation. Both these perspectives, I argue, are unsatisfactory.

This paper is a largely theoretical and conceptual work in progress, which extends ideas from two other recent articles. Using four distinct analytical properties, it seeks to reconstruct ‘nationalism’ as a useful analytical concept as well as a causal factor, which remains important in the field of immigration and integration policy. I distinguish between nationalism’s property as a motivational and policy driving force and as an agent of national distinctiveness (the latter being a non-necessary property), and go on to discuss the properties of ‘national high culture’ and ‘national partialism’.

Reconstructing a classical distinction, the paper argues that nationalism – at least in relation to our field – is ‘civic’ and ‘cultural’ more than strictly ethnic. However, the ‘ethnos’ bit continues to come in by the back door, in many countries, via an instrumentalist public philosophy idea of social cohesion (both in relation to immigrants and majority electorates). I also argue that national distinctiveness and national identity may inform policies, which we would not want to call nationalistic (because they do not seek to impose culture and/or are particularly partial) – Sweden being an example. Also, some policies may well be nationalistic – driven by nationalistic sentiment, ambitions to acculturate, and a desire to protect the interest of nationals – without being very particular, indeed while partaking in a ‘liberal convergence’.


The Migration Seminar series is hosted by The Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare (MIM) at Malmö University. Click here for information on upcoming seminars.

Gathering for the seminar is at 14:05 on the ground floor next to the Reception in Niagara.

Senast uppdaterad av Angela Bruno Andersen