Immigrant Integration. The re/production of Social Imaginaries

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Complex societal dynamics related to immigrant communities became understood in terms of integration and were reduced to narrow qualifications, dividing individuals or/and groups into ‘well integrated’ and ‘not well integrated’. In order to make such an understanding possible, the ‘society’ in which immigrants are expected to integrate themselves, is imagined as a bounded and unproblematized whole. Simultaneously, immigrant integration – since its inception – has consistently been presented as a failure which is attributed to immigrants unwillingness or inability to integrate. To explore these phenomena, the thesis hypothesizes that immigrant integration through reproduction and institutionalization of difference, contradicts its desired outcome of realizing an integrated whole. Using critical frame analysis, it examines the extent to, and the manner in, which society has been framed as a bounded whole with its immigrant others as residing at its margins – in Dutch parliamentary debates. It conceptualizes integration as a social practice and immigrants’ integration as performativity. It explores the subject’s performativity through reproduction, resistance and transformation of social imaginaries of integration. It concludes that integration discourse and practice creates a mirage of mobility towards an inevitable destination; joining ‘society’. This gives a glimpse of hope for ‘newcomers’, but a sense of broken promise to ‘oldcomers’.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen