A1 Journal article (refereed)
The participation paradox : demand for and fear of immigrant participation (2020)

Klarenbeek, L. M., & Weide, M. (2020). The participation paradox : demand for and fear of immigrant participation. Critical Policy Studies, 14 (2), 214-232. doi:10.1080/19460171.2019.1569540

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Publication details

All authors or editors: Klarenbeek, Lea M.; Weide, Marjukka

Journal or series: Critical Policy Studies

ISSN: 1946-0171

eISSN: 1946-018X

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 14

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 214-232

Publisher: Routledge

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/19460171.2019.1569540

Open Access: Open access publication published in a hybrid channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/71205


In this paper, we address the ambivalence in European immigrant integration discourses toward the political participation of immigrants. We show how this ambivalence manifests in what we call a ‘participation paradox’, which is constituted by two apparently conflicting, but potentially mutually reinforcing characteristics of the discourse. The first emphasizes the need for immigrants to be active in order to attain a well-integrated society and well-functioning democratic polity; the second is a call for the protection of liberal democratic institutions from the alleged ‘illiberal threats’ that migrants pose to society. Immigrant participation is thus both demanded and feared. Using illustrations from Denmark, we show two different ways in which this paradox plays out in practice: i) the fear of participation results in debates around the general desirability of immigrant participation; and ii) the perceived threat of ‘undesired participation’ reinforces the demand for immigrants to be ‘good’ citizens by participating in a ‘civic’ way. In these cases, the content of immigrant participation is discursively restricted. We end the paper by exploring the consequences of the paradox in terms of the democratic position of immigrants.

Keywords: migrants; integration of migrants; political participation; political activity; democracy; citizenship; participation; immigration

Free keywords: integration; Denmark; electoral rights; religion

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Last updated on 2020-22-07 at 23:00