The entanglement of substantive and symbolic politics in immigrant integration: Insights from a regional state in Germany

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Abstract

When discussing the governance of immigrant integration, researchers and policymakers have gone back and forth in either conceiving national governments as determining immigrant integration or ascribing the local level as a strong influence in this field of policy-making. This article focuses on the regional level instead, which has so far often been left out of the picture. Based on extensive fieldwork in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration in the regional state Baden-Württemberg in Germany, we examine the character of immigrant integration policy-making in Baden-Württemberg in the aftermath of the long summer of migration. Our findings show the pertinence of symbolic uses of integration policies in combination with substantive uses. We make sense of these findings in light of an increased role of the regional level, the intrinsic symbolic character of immigrant integration, and the resurgence of anti-immigrant politics after 2015 in Baden-Württemberg. Based on our findings we counter a common binary of substantive and symbolic uses of policies and argue that these are often combined and entangled. Furthermore, the results of this study underscore that policy-making on immigrant integration is not reserved for municipalities and national governments and adds that the regional level plays a role too.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy Studies
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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