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How the Host Nation's Boundary Drawing Affects Immigrants' Belonging

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Across Western democracies, the place for newcomers in the host society is debated, involving often a questioning of immigrants’ belonging to their new nation. This article argues that immigrants’ feeling of host national belonging depends on how the host nation imagines its community and its concomitant boundaries. Utilizing survey and country level data in multilevel regressions, immigrants’ belonging is found to vary significantly across the 19 countries included. A central contribution is the finding that citizenship policies do not explain this cross-national variation. Instead, what matters is the informal boundary drawing produced in the majority population’s conception of what is important for being part of the national “us”. Thus, immigrants’ belonging is significantly greater when the majority population prioritizes attainable criteria of national membership. In addition, these priorities are shown to have deep historical roots as immigrants’ belonging is greater in settler countries and in nations which democratized early. By showing that national imageries have consequences for a country’s welcoming capacities, and by showing that these welcoming capacities are historically path-dependent, the study contributes to the debate within nationalism studies about national identity’s causal significance.
TidsskriftJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Sider (fra-til)1153-1176
Antal sider24
StatusUdgivet - 2016

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