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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Civic integration policy? : the impact of European civic integration programs on immigrant well-being, perceptions of belonging, and value adoption Brinkmeyer, Clara Louisa


Civic integration policies have emerged across a variety of Western European states as a strategy to improve the integration outcomes of non-European immigrants through obligatory programs of language instruction, employment counselling, and civic education. While these programs may facilitate integration through the promotion of ‘citizen-like’ skills, such as language and country knowledge, scholars caution that civic integration policies may also have exclusionary effects and separate some immigrants from membership in the national community by restricting their entry into the country and evoking the notion that certain immigrants are fundamentally different from natives. This study examines how the paradoxical entanglement of inclusion and exclusion in civic integration policy affects the subjective integration perceptions of participating immigrants. Using a difference-in-difference approach and data from eight rounds of the European Social Survey (2002-2017), it investigates how civic integration requirements impact the life satisfaction, perceptions of belonging, and value adoption of third-country nationals across fifteen countries in Western Europe. I find that programs of language instruction, employment counselling, and civic education increase immigrant well-being but do not exert any effect on immigrants’ sense of belonging or attitudes. The results of this study suggest that civic integration programs overall benefit immigrants and facilitate their settlement in the host country. Notions of exclusion within the programs do not appear to play a significant role in predicting feelings of belonging among participating immigrants.

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