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Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies


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Citizenship and immigration:


Pathologies of a progressive philosophy
a
Adrian Favell
a
European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations as
a Research Fellow
Published online: 30 Jun 2010.

To cite this article: Adrian Favell (1997) Citizenship and immigration: Pathologies of
a progressive philosophy, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 23:2, 173-195, DOI:
10.1080/1369183X.1997.9976585

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new community 23(2): 173-195 April 1997

Citizenship and immigration: pathologies of a


progressive philosophy1

Adrian Favell
Abstract Across Western Europe and North America, ideas about citizenship have
become central to understanding the problems involved in immigration and the inte-
gration of ethnic minorities and likewise to formulating their resolution in public policy.
Academics for their part have reflected this growing political interest by rediscovering
citizenship as a theoretical concept, going well beyond its formal legal meaning into
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discussions about its symbolic, affective and moral dimensions: citizenship as member-
ship or belonging; citizenship as participation or duty. The present article attempts to
bridge the gap between the two arenas of policy and theory and to show how abstract,
normative discussions of citizenship can bear a relation to immigration questions in
practice.
The scene is set with a theoretical discussion of the role of normative ideas and values
in explaining the policy process and the emergence of institutions for dealing with
specific public problems. This theoretical model is then applied to France (1981-1995),
where a strong, abstractly formulated frame of citizenship enabled a new policy response
to the growing political problem of immigration and integration in the country. A
number of adverse and restrictive effects have become evident. The French scenario
is then compared to other national cases, namely Britain, other West European states,
and Canada and the USA, where a similar concentration of interest in the issue has
resulted in somewhat different responses. The account moves towards the establishment
of a single explanatory framework that may account for national variation in policy-
making, and address the issue of whether cross-national convergence is occurring. The
relationship between debate on citizenship and the apparent end of equality as a policy
goal is discussed, and finally the article moves on to suggest a comparative research
agenda.

The strong re-emergence in recent years of problems pertaining to immigration


and the integration of ethnic minorities has brought with it a revived interest in
the notion of citizenship across Western Europe and North America. In public
debate, ideas about citizenship have become a central frame for understanding
the problems involved and formulating their resolution in public policy ('frame'
is here understood as an encompassing set of normative concepts and linguistic
terms, used by actors and commentators on all sides of the political spectrum).
Academics in various countries have reflected this growing political interest by
rediscovering citizenship as a theoretical concept in political science and political
sociology, going well beyond its formal legal meaning into discussions about its
symbolic, affective and moral dimensions: citizenship as membership or belong-

Adrian Favell was a researcher at the Centre d'tude de la vie politique franaise (CEVIPOF), Fondation
Nationale des Sciences Politiques, Paris and has recently joined the European Research Centre on
Migration and Ethnic Relations as a Research Fellow.

0047-9586/97/020173-23 1997 Carfax Publishing Ltd, published on behalf of ERCOMER


174 A. Favell

ing; citizenship as participation or duty. These discussions, in effect, mark an


unprecedented boom in interest in the concerns of classic political philosophy at
both an abstract and an applied level. The convergence of political and academic
interest in the idea of citizenship indeed for once seems to suggest a certain
degree of 'philosophical' influence on the shape and course of current politics.
For all the political and theoretical rhetoric, however, it still has to be shown
how and why abstract philosophical concerns about the nature and ideal of
citizenship in public debate can and do have an actual effect on the policy
process and political outcomes. Social scientists characteristically prefer to ex-
plain such political events and currents as an outcome of the self-interested
interaction of actors and parties. They are thus apt to be sceptical of the causal
effect of normative ideas and values, or at best to discredit them as ideology in
the service of particular social groups or classes. There is, in other words, a
seemingly unbridgeable gulf between the social scientific work of positive
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explanation in which all citizenship 'talk' is epiphenomenal, and the normative


formulations of political theorists who discuss citizenship as the fundamental
universal, moral ideal that has and should guide the practice of liberal demo-
cratic politics. The present article attempts to bridge this gap and show how the
predominantly abstract, normative discussions of citizenship can make sense in
relation to immigration questions in practice.
In one sense, the influence of the political philosophy of citizenship is well
recognised. As a focus for a variety of long-established liberal 'enlightenment'
ideas, the reference to citizenship in political debate can indeed open up a
channel of political opportunities for the pursuit of progressive ends: the
universalisation of national membership to all ethnic or cultural groups; the
defence of equality; the extension of new rights to marginalised or problematic
groups. What is less well recognised is that, when studied empirically, the
emergence of a powerful discursive frame of citizenship - in which such
philosophical ideals become the dominant goal and justification of actual poli-
cies - can also be seen to have negative and unintended effets pervers, or
'pathologies'. The exclusive focusing of policy problems on typical 'theory of
citizenship' issues - for example, questions of cultural pluralism, the limits of
integration, or rebuilding community and solidarity - can distort the articulation
of a fuller range of issues involved, sideline the recognition of elements essential
to their resolution, and entrench the current institutional arrangements so that
they are unable to adapt or respond to new circumstances and demands.
This article will make reference to a number of national cases where a
philosophical discussion on citizenship has emerged as an important frame in
the public debate on immigration and integration. As will be shown below, the
emergence of immigration as a salient political issue, the kind of citizenship
'talk' that develops, and the connection between immigration as the problem and
a philosophy of citizenship as the solution varies from case to case. Comparable
basic issues and problems in each society have been treated in public policy and
political debate in distinct, nationally particular ways. To complicate matters,
there is also a developing transnational discourse on citizenship - connected
with supra-national venues such as the European Union - that cuts across the
national discussions. In some cases, however, it is possible to show that at a
certain point in time - and for contingent political reasons - the ideals and
values carried within the idiom of citizenship did have a decisive influence
on the shape and outcome of the politics. Further, it can be shown that the
Citizenship and immigration: pathologies of a progressive philosophy 175

intercession of this normative dimension accounts, to a significant degree, for the


persistence of such different national approaches to the questions of immigration
and integration, and the distinct kinds of problems that each country has had to
face.
The article begins, therefore, with a theoretical discussion of the role of
normative ideas and values in explaining the policy process and the emergence
of institutions for dealing with specific public problems. France (1981-1995) then
provides an 'ideal type' for this theoretical model. The emergence of a strong,
abstractly formulated frame of citizenship enabled a new policy response to the
growing political problem of immigration and integration in the country, and
this formulation has in the years since had a number of characteristic adverse
and restrictive effects. Against this background, France is compared with other
national cases, viewed in a similar way: namely Britain, other West European
cases, and Canada and the USA, where a similar concentration of interest in the
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issue has resulted in a somewhat different return of the citizenship idiom and
different knock-on effects. This account moves towards the establishment of a
single explanatory framework that may account for national variation, and
addresses the issue of whether cross-national convergence is occurring, particu-
larly in relation to the demands on national policy-making made by cooperation
at the supra-national level. Penultimately, some general reflections are offered
on the relation between the return of debate on citizenship and the apparent end
of equality as a substantive goal and principle in public policy; and finally the
article moves on to outline the kind of comparative research agenda that is
suggested by this approach to the subject of immigration and citizenship.

Normative ideas and the emergence of new institutions


There is no shortage of current theoretical reflection of a philosophical kind
about citizenship, but few of these works attempt to make the empirical
connections that are needed to show how, when and why ideas about citizen-
ship have affected the course of politics and policy in recent years. Even if they
do shadow the concerns of the public debate, abstract general philosophical
theories are ill-equipped to demonstrate the mechanisms by which normative
ideas might influence the policy process, because they do not address such
explanatory questions. Without this, such theories cannot show why the norma-
tive intuitions they express actually do motivate the actions of specific individu-
als or actors, or how they can be translated into institutional terms.
The return of citizenship in political theory does at least reflect the tendency
of contemporary political philosophers to look for more applied conclusions to
their abstract reflections (Kymlicka and Norman 1994). This is an agenda
essentially set by the all-pervasive influence of John Rawls, whose later work
(1993) has laid down the dominant axes of philosophical enquiry: centred
around the reconciliation of liberalism with communitarianism, universalism
with particularism, or equality with membership in a specific national society.
Writers have turned to new forms of civic republicanism (Beiner 1995; Mouffe
1992), or to complex defences of minority rights and recognition (Kymlicka 1995;
Spinner 1995; Taylor with Gutmann 1992); all have made the theory of citizen-
ship central. The defence of citizenship has been a common conclusion of nearly
all current post-Marxist left-wing thought (Andrews 1991; Held 1993). Such
work has also been given a historical and social theoretical dimension by the
176 A. Favell

rediscovery of the Marshallian paradigm (Bulmer and Rees 1996; Turner 1993),
and a kind of enlightened 'constitutional patriotism' being defended as the end
point of the progressive telos of rights and societal incorporation (Habermas
1992).
This rather wide range of philosophers is united by its somewhat old-fash-
ioned, left-leaning concern with re-defining citizenship, and thereby restoring a
political philosophical view of the way in which contemporary political systems
work. For all their technical differences, the adoption of the frame of citizenship
imposes on their perspective a set of broadly common normative features: an
accent on constitutionalism and rights in a bounded political community; a
conception of the public sphere in which public virtues are distinguished from
private interests; the foundational existence of shared principles that all, includ-
ing culturally diverse members of the polity, can consciously give their consent
to; a plea for more active citizenship participation, competence and transpar-
ency. Many of these ideals are beginning to look anachronistic, if not implausi-
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ble, descriptions of the contemporary political world or actual political


behaviour. Yet political theorists everywhere have felt the need to affirm them,
deliberately blurring the descriptive and prescriptive in their analysis of contem-
porary political events.
Because of this excessive idealism, such abstract philosophical formulations of
citizenship theory are arguably not as interesting or relevant as the 'public
philosophies' of citizenship - sharing many of the same normative features -
that might be found in actual existing liberal democratic states. The idea of there
being distinct 'public philosophies' underlying the coherence and stability of
Western liberal democracies, has been made popular by certain American
communitarian writers, such as Robert Bellah (1992), Amitai Etzioni (1993) and
Michael Sandel (1995). Pitched at a level between political philosophy and
empirical social commentary, their form of analysis suggests - in a de Tocquevil-
lian manner - that a public philosophy can be read off from the institutionalised
legal, social and political forms found empirically in a given society. With this
thought, one might turn to the specific domain of immigration and integration
questions, and read the institutionalised political solutions - the distinctive
frameworks of public policy that exist in France, Britain, Germany and so on, for
dealing with the practical 'ethnic dilemmas' they face (Glazer 1983) - as applied
national versions of a public philosophy of citizenship. Distinct progressive
elements of classic liberal philosophies of citizenship can certainly be traced in
the 'visions of citizenship' found underlying French or British policies, for
example. However, the ideals and principles these visions embody have had -
unlike ideal philosophical theories - to be reconciled with the weight of national
political traditions and the sober limitations of party politics and technocratic
practice (Dunn 1984: 1-10).
Such liberal public philosophies are, in the most general sense, responses to
the problem of 'social integration' faced by any national political system. This is
a question of Hobbesian vintage. How can a political system achieve stability
and legitimacy by building communal bonds of civility and tolerance - a moral
social order - across the conflicts and divisions caused by the plurality of values
and individual interests (Elster 1989; Taylor 1987)? Liberal democratic political
institutions are the modern enlightened solution to this fundamental question of
social and political theory, institutions whose justification and raison d'tre is
most often expressed by a publicly held creed of citizenship. Such ideas of
Citizenship and immigration: pathologies of a progressive philosophy 177

citizenship typically also express the idea of national identity in their vision of
political unity (e.g. the 'American Creed' - Walzer 1992).
In recent years, the question of immigration - in particular the question of
cultural pluralism and political membership - has emerged centre stage to
become one of the critical political problems challenging the existing idea of
national identity; hence immigration has re-posed the, fundamental question of
social integration anew. In its most familiar form, this has been posed as the
search for a 'reconceptualisation of community' under the new social conditions.
New political institutions - for example, new nationality laws, integration
policies, or anti-discrimination provisions - have been sought to answer the
problems to which this leads. This process whereby a public problem emerges,
is identified as politically salient, and goes on to inspire a constructive political
response via public policy and the construction of new institutional devices, can
be read as an example of a liberal democratic political system 'puzzling' and
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'learning' in a progressive political direction (Gusfield 1981; Hall 1993).


In the ordinary run of day-to-day politics, it is by no means certain that
conflicting political parties will overcome their divisions in perspective and
produce the kind of new policy institutions needed to address such searching
problems. It is at this point that more abstract and universal normative ideas and
conceptions may be invoked to inspire the building of a new consensus. As the
recent literature on ideas and argument in the policy process suggests, ideas are
influential and decisive in the political decision-making process precisely when
interest-based agreement cannot be achieved, and can be observed most evi-
dently when policy change has been rapid and transformative (Goldstein and
Keohane 1993; Hall 1986,1993; Majone 1989, 1996; Schuck 1992). In his study of
the triumph of monetarist ideas over Keynesianism in Thatcher's Britain, Peter
Hall (1993) likens such moments to a 'gestalt switch', the moment when one
'policy paradigm' is replaced by a totally new 'public theory': that is, with a new
language, terms and theoretical presuppositions. Ideas are initially wielded as
weapons in partisan political debate, and hence an expression of narrow party
political interests. But they may then take on a life of their own as other actors
engage in debate, establishing a new language to which a majority consensus
can adhere. There are instances of philosophers in fact being directly involved in
the construction of these public philosophies - as 'policy entrepreneurs' or even
as engaged political actors - but much of the time their work has very little
direct influence. However, their background intellectual work, establishing the
dominant vocabulary and concepts with which public problems are discussed, is
always a part of the story and should not be underestimated.
The upsetting of a previous settled frame of public policy, and the establish-
ment of a new language is invariably experienced - as the Kuhnian metaphor of
paradigm suggests - as a moment of political crisis and stressful political
uncertainty. The usual day-to-day currency of 'normal' politics has been upset
by debate and struggle over the very context of political life: a situation of
'fundamental' politics. In the case of immigration, the fundamental crisis goes as
far as challenging the terms of national unity and identity within which normal
politics takes place. What struggle over a political problem as fundamental as
immigration may reveal, then, is that a degree of identity is needed by all
political parties involved in order for the usual business of partisan interests
positioning, conflict and compromise to even be possible. It reveals that some
such identity is in fact a pre-condition for the ordered calculation of conflicting
178 A. Favell

interests: an observation that can be read as a novel solution to the fundamental


Hobbesian dilemma (Pizzorno 1991).
It is worth remembering that immigration was not always an area of public
policy that raised fundamental problems of this kind; nor was it seen as a
separate policy domain requiring innovative political solutions. In the post-war
period, immigration was initially treated as part of the standard welfare state
approach to public order and national unity questions posed by class conflict.
Immigrants were treated as part of the working class, given social benefits where
appropriate, and not thought to pose any problems to the established national
order: not least because it was thought they would not stay beyond their work
contracts. Typically, then, the first political pressure connected to immigrants
came about where the indigenous working class population came into conflict
with immigrants, over jobs, housing, etc. Immigration became a politically
salient problem when entrepreneurial extreme or social movement parties and
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organisations on the right or left took up the issue as a way of attracting the
public political eye: the strategy of public debate expansion (Baumgartner 1989).
Immigrants could now be portrayed as a threat or challenge to national unity
and political identity, the old class-based model of citizenship now being said
not to work for these newcomers who were seen as 'different' in some way.
In such a situation, the mainstream parties at first might be tempted to cash
in on negative populist feelings towards immigration, and the salience of the
issue may become big enough to force restrictive and highly visible anti-immi-
gration measures. But the immoveable presence of settled immigrants remains
and - as a vehicle for fundamental politics - the issue can threaten to upset a
wider social consensus on a range of issues that can be attached to the national
identity question. It is in the interest of mainstream parties, therefore, to search
for a more inclusive, constructive response to immigration; it is at this point that
a public debate on a revised concept of citizenship is typically sought, as a
solution to the emergent problem of social integration.
What is essential about ideas of citizenship in this context, is that they may act
both as an acceptable focal point for a wide range of political interests (Garrett
and Weingast 1993), and as the source of a public political vocabulary that
chimes with the myths of national political tradition, and yet is forward-looking
at the same time (Krasmer 1993). The point will be made below that one of the
curious features of the very different institutions that have emerged in different
national settings for dealing with ethnic minorities, is the deep consensus in each
case on the terms and language of policy within which the questions are
discussed and different practical policy options are decided upon. What is
doubly puzzling has been the stability of these frameworks over time, despite all
kinds of other political changes going on around them.
The new consensus on a 'public theory' of integration in the face of the
immigration challenge may be dressed in the robes of tradition, but this should
not disguise the fact that it is the institutional outcome of a contingent,
contemporary political process, with a specific configuration of forces and timing
behind it. The resurgence of a national vision of citizenship is, then, often
experienced as a form of 'neo-nationalism' (Feldblum 1993; Silverman 1992).
Although, it is often the most salient and powerful response, there is nothing
necessary about a nationally bound solution: immigration policies should not be
read only as a subset of nation-building political activities - especially in an age
of globalisation and trans-national politics - and a nation's historical experience
Citizenship and immigration: pathologies of a progressive philosophy 179

(i.e. with nineteenth century immigration or colonialism) is not by itself


sufficient to explain the dynamics of contemporary currents and events (contra
Brubaker 1992). One of the unfortunate consequences of the tendency of immi-
gration politics to focus on identity has been the reinforcement of mystificatory
nationalistic political thinking in policy responses. This is something that has
become very apparent with the entry of the European sphere into the national
policy picture, and the misfit of national and supra-national policy approaches.
The destablising effects of 'fundamental' political debate thus push the main-
stream consensus to aim for a return to 'normal' politics, and to return manage-
ment of the 'hot' immigration issue to spheres away from the public political
eye: bureaucratic inner circles, or local and regional levels where it is not likely
to destablise the mainstream (Freeman 1995; Guiraudon 1998, forthcoming). The
mainstream has, in effect, very strong stakes in maintaining the institutional
arrangement it has put in place: to avoid the centrifugal tendencies of funda-
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mental political conflict. This is why the institutional structure stays so firm over
time, and why it can then be seen to structure for better or worse the course of
further policy outcomes and adaptations that follow from the initial policy
formulation. The configuration of political forces behind the institutional ar-
rangement is therefore the source of this phenomenon: what I shall refer to as
'path dependency'. Tracing the path of policy evolution from the emergence of
immigration as a public problem, through institutional crisis and the emergence
of new institutions, into the period of path-dependent evolution and adaptation,
thereby becomes the key to the study of 'institutional performance' in a compar-
ative perspective (North 1990; Putnam 1993).
The formulation of the original institutional solution - the public philosophy
of citizenship expressed in the public policy on immigration and integration for
example - can be seen to centre on certain terms, categories and mechanisms
that it identifies as the key to solving the public problem (March and Olsen
1989). A theory of intgration for immigrs through access to a Republican social
contract of citizenship is one example (France); a social management of conflict
through legal race relations mechanisms and categories, and pluralist venues of
multiculturalism, another (Britain). These inventions are the product of a demo-
cratic process of consensus: they are in many ways the best responses that these
two liberal democracies in question were able to produce politically from their
'puzzling' over the question of integration for their ethnic minorities. Once in
place these public theories may enable a variety of mechanisms or institutional
channels to evolve and develop over time. Ethnic minorities themselves will be
constrained to adapt to and work within them, using the political opportunities
that the form of their recognition in the national political system affords. Over
time, the philosophies of citizenship may prove to have a good degree of success
in their aim of integration.
However, viewed over time, new problems will also inevitably arise from the
fact that any original institutional solution is bound to be imperfect. There may
be new external influences (new types of immigrants to deal with; a new
European political context), new information (shifts in demography; wider social
change), or internal mutation of the original terms and categories (political
pressure from groups not recognised in the original categories). There will be an
inevitable time disjunction between the original institutional solution identified
as policy and the pace of political events. Moreover, there is a limit to the
evolution that an institutional arrangement may make without completely
180 A. Favell

falling apart: certain 'core' elements - sacred categories or legal fictions - will be
protected from change by 'epicyclical' adaptations that try to twist and contort
the terms and language on offer to new questions, although barely appropriate
for the task. This will be the source of various effets pervers, pathologies of the
progressive original ideas (Hirschman 1991). It is the political stakes involved
that produce such path dependency. More rational, innovative responses are
blocked because they would have to pass through the crucible of context-chal-
lenging fundamental policy crisis again, and thereby involve very high and
destructive short-term costs whatever the long-term benefits of a brand new
policy framework (what is known as a 'self-reinforcing mechanism' in econom-
ics - Arthur 1988). However, marginal and extreme parties will continue to
profit from the 'sore spots' caused by current policy deficiencies and seek to
reheat the issue in fundamental terms.
It is with this kind of theoretical framework that a genuinely comparative
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critical study can be made of various liberal democratic nations' responses to


immigration and the integration of ethnic minorities. In each case the path of
policy emergence and evolution can be traced, and the political forces that
sustain it exposed. The nations faced similar problems but produced ostensibly
different solutions, with different timings for the institutional solution. Both the
question of policy adaptation over time, and the entry of a new supra-national
level into the policy process suggest the possible convergence of institutional
forms across cases; this too can be traced in path-dependency terms. Critical
leverage on the individual national cases is afforded both by suggesting the
counter-factual possibilities that were ruled out by the path-dependent course of
policy outcomes (Hawthorn 1991), and by highlighting comparative contrasts
that show up deficiencies that are 'blindspots' within a particular national
perspective. Increasingly also, the idea of there being in each case a unitary state
producing policy solutions to the problems it faces, is challenged by distinct and
conflicting venues and levels of policy-making both within the state and outside
it. New types of challenge to the status quo have been enabled by this
disjunction.

France: immigration and the politics of citizenship, 1981-1995


It was probably France in the 1980s that best exemplifies the kind of path of
development identified above, in which an abstract, normative reconceptualisa-
tion of community and the framework of policy on immigration was publicly
achieved via the elaboration of reworked ideas of citizenship. Although recent,
the formulation has proven sufficiently strong and politically central to enable
observation of the effects and subsequent path of political developments within
the dominant frame. France in the 1980s is also particularly valuable for such an
analysis in that it was here, perhaps more than in any other country, where the
question of immigration - and the general issues of social integration and
changing national identity that it engenders - became the central and pivotal
issue of political life.
Certain conditions peculiar to France made policy makers more receptive to
the influence of an openly intellectualised reformulation of this kind. Parisian
intellectuals traditionally have a higher visibility and social influence in France
than intellectuals in many other states. This intellectual presence has always
been a part of all the great political changes in France from the Revolution
Citizenship and immigration: pathologies of a progressive philosophy 181

onwards. But these background factors would not be sufficient by themselves to


determine the shape of policies towards the integration of immigrants. Up to the
mid-1980s, even allowing for its colonial particularities and the drawn out
trauma over Algeria, French policy was not greatly different to other continental
countries who had absorbed new third-world immigrants as transient labourers
and as guest workers. It had relied on a pragmatic set of practices based on the
idea of insertion: guaranteeing minimal social rights and welfare, localising
problems, making little effort to forcibly assimilate the population (as they were
assumed to be going home), offering some public housing and communal
assistance, and allowing certain appeasing cultural compromises with their
religion (Islam) and associations (Costa-Lascoux 1989; Kepel 1987; Weil 1991;
Wihtol de Wenden 1988). Like all the other West European nations, France had
responded to the 1970s economic crisis by closing the doors to unrestricted
immigration. And, as elsewhere, this then focused the question on those already
there to stay, and the question of integrating them into the host society. France,
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like other countries, sought to play down the threat of racial tension by
subsuming its management of these problems into wider questions of political
economy, class conflict and welfare (Freeman 1979). There is little evidence that
any big normative ideas played a fundamental role in shaping the political
debate up to this point.
However, what was seen in the middle of the 1980s was the remarkable
resurgence of ideas and political argument based on a revision of the classic
French assimilatory - and nation building - republican tradition, couched
in the rhetoric of intgration. A new generation of young and heavily media-
oriented policy intellectuals spearheaded an enormous public debate about the
specific nature of French citizenship, with les immigrs as its epicentre (see
French works cited above; along with Schnapper 1991). By the early 1990s the
result was the clear triumph of a new policy paradigm - 'la nouvelle synthse
rpublicaine' (Weil 1991) - that had pervaded all areas of public policy and
political debate, with specific reform to nationality laws, laws on the limits of
toleration and foreign family practices, changes to local city policies for dealing
with deprived groups, and, most significantly, new French attitudes towards
European unity.
As might be expected, debate-expanding efforts were required on behalf of the
provincial and marginalised political extremes to bring the issue to the central
agenda and give the question of national identity fundamental salience. On the
one hand, there was the pivotal role of Le Pen's Front National splitting the right
wing vote; on the other, the emergence of new multicultural social movements
on the left, such as SOS Racisme (Blatt 1995). Both raised the issue of the meaning
of French citizenship as their standard: the first calling for a return to a culturally
exclusive version, the second for a nouvelle citoyennet based on residence and
universal rights rather than national identity and cultural belonging. Their
efforts were aided by the receptiveness of the first socialist government of the
1980s to regionalist and 'differentialist' thinking, and to Mitterand's domination
of the centre ground, helped by allowing the Front National proportional repre-
sentation in the national assembly (Schain 1988). The resonance of expansionary
calls for a re-evaluation of French national identity and the threat that it faced
was, in fact, far wider than the somewhat incommensurable concern with les
immigrs. It was related to the decline, in real terms, of the powers of the
centralised state; the impinging threat of Europeanisation - legally, politically
182 A. Favell

and economically; and the return of regionalism and politically pluralist forces
in France (Many 1992; Nicolet 1992).
Two 'crises' in the dominant government policy were the focus of the debate's
expansion: the crisis in anti-racism, in reaction to the dangerously 'corruptible'
differentialist inheritance of the 1968 generation that was in particular seen as
the root of the rise (or rather 'rediscovery') of Islam in France (Kepel 1994;
Taguieff 1988, 1991); and the political problems with nationality law and the
continued maintenance of a jus solis legal tradition (a mostly rhetorical self-con-
ception) in the face of new international migrations. Both had been key rhetori-
cal points driving Le Pen's bandwagon. Anomalies and inconsistencies in the
naturalisation of North Africans had kept alive the binary distinction between
franais /trangers that Le Pen was able to use - on cultural grounds - to exclude
rhetorically all those of obvious foreign origin, even those of second-and
third-generation French citizenship. This should have been dealt with as a
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simple point about the public recognition of a person's status (about the
definition of 'being French' in the eyes of the law), rather than as an issue of
citizenship as full membership of the nation as such. But the issue as framed by
the ideologues of the right became a question of citizenship, namely that
immigrants should be seen to culturally and morally deserve it (Hannoun 1986;
Le Gallou and Jalkh 1987). The continuing problems with the nationality law
were a source of this nationalist and culturalist rhetorical font. Redefining
exactly what French citizenship did mean in an age of cultural pluralism thus
became a central focal point for everyone in the public debate.
In 1986/87, the first government attempt to profit from these currents and
tighten the laws was made by the Chirac government. As a hard-line initiative
it failed, but it did succeed in raising the debate about nationality and citizenship
to the most open and central public level. Linked with an equally controversial
educational reform, it brought demonstrations out onto the streets. Notwith-
standing the actual objective need for a reform to the laws to fit the new
migration situation of the 1980s, the government had misjudged the stakes in
supporting such a conflicting line. Framed by its critics as a philosophical
betrayal of the classically universalist ideals of French citizenship, the exclusion-
ary tone of the initial proposals seemed perversely nativist and reactionary
(Brubaker 1992; Ireland 1994; Wayland 1993). The right swiftly changed tack,
beginning to emphasise the open, integrationist aspects of a new nationality law,
within the 'legitimate' national desire to control and regulate borders.
A new consensus was sought through the launch of the extraordinary all-
party and intellectually dominated Commission de la Nationalit. With live tele-
vision testimonies from almost 100 representatives from all walks of French life,
the self-styled comit des sages put together a definitive 'official' reflection on
what it means to be French under the new conditions of national diversity, and
what the conditions for successful integration were. The Commission endorsed
a new voluntaristic and individualist contrat social theory of citizenship as the
justification for certain technical reforms to the nationality law, and launched the
search for a full public theory of intgration specific to the French political
tradition. The document, published in 1988, won all-party approval from the
mainstream, and established its version of France as the central reference point
in the newly emerging public philosophy (Commission de la Nationalit 1988).
The Commission's work was pursued by the permanent special Haut Conseil
'Integration's further reflections (1990-1993), where the focus shifted from the
Citizenship and immigration: pathologies of a progressive philosophy 183

nationality laws to the social institutions for integrating culturally and re-
ligiously different groups within an idealistically defined individualist, egali-
tarian French political order (Haut Conseil l'Intgration 1993).
These reflections cemented the other key elements of the now dominant
philosophy of citizenship, becoming the central textual reference point connect-
ing public debate to the policy domain, and thereby coming to guide and
structure the ongoing policy discussions about ethnic minorities: particularly the
great problem (as it is seen and constructed) of integrating Islam (Leca 1991).
The work of these official reflective bodies throughout the period is surrounded
and confirmed by the work of a whole new generation of highly visible,
media-oriented neo-republican intellectuals, such as Alain Finkielkraut, Pierre-
Andr Taguieff, Dominique Schnapper and Emmanuel Todd. Along the way,
the previously pragmatic policies of socio-economic insertion have been overlaid
and changed into a high-principled and spectacular philosophy of intgration.
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The rise of this public philosophy of citoyennet to predominance in French


discussions on immigration and integration is built on a combination of two
things: first, an elaboration of the peculiar French modle as being based on the
highest and most abstract of philosophical ideals; and second, a striking manipu-
lation of historical argument to establish this philosophy as a smooth 'ever
present' teleology of the post-revolutionary creuset franais - with the Third
Republic as the mythical reference point and justificatory origin of French
practices towards immigrants (Noiriel 1988). The combination enabled the
bicentennial proclamation of la Rpublique du centre, a revised consensual accept-
ance by all sides of the gains of the French Revolution, and the reconciliation of
the left and right on the basis of republican ideals (Furet et al. 1989). The
theorising about citizenship re-emphasises the traditional virtues of political
participation as a contrat social made by free and equal citoyens in direct relation
with the state (a kind of revisionist self-reconciliation of French collectivism with
the individualist spirit of the 1980s). The value of French individualism is
exaggerated in comparison with all forms of communautarisme or political
pluralism, which are described as little better than potential forms of barbarity
(Finkielkraut 1987; Mine 1993; Sorman 1992; Todorov 1989). A sharp line is
drawn between the public and private spheres to prevent the tolerance of a
universalist cultural pluralism clashing with the refusal of political pluralism.
French political institutions are claimed as the national tradition which best
embodies the rights of man, and a fortiori post-World War II human rights; the
nation is conceptualised as a kind of universalist, transcendent Kantian 'king-
dom of ends' (Ferry and Renaut 1985; Kristeva 1993; Schnapper 1994). Most
importantly of all, there is the proof and endpoint of the philosophy of French
citizenship - intgration as nationalit russie, all those smiling beurs brandishing
their cartes d'identits - in which participation in French public life transforms the
newcomer de V immigr au citoyen (the formula spelt out by Costa-Lascoux (1989),
endorsed by the Haut Conseil l'Intgration). The ideal type and role model is
then the fully autonomous individual French political actor, broken from their
tribal and ethnic origins: a Harlem Dsir (the media-friendly leader of SOS
Racisme, of mixed racial origin) or Kofi Yamgnane (the black African who was
the first Secrtaire d'Etat l'Intgration).
An ideal theory has thus been laid down and established as a paradigmatic
model that has set the dominant agenda and terms that political argument can
take within this frame. It is almost exclusively in these terms that the media and
184 A. Favell

politicians continue to debate the issues. The fact that there were once different
policies, or that the Third Republic mythology is inappropriate to the integration
of post-colonial African immigrants in a post-industrial society, are almost
universally overlooked. Many French intellectuals - especially those in the
Parisian elite - currently appear to be engaged in the nationalist edification of
their country's universalist political virtues (Lorcerie 1994). With the paradigm
well established by the early 1990s, significant policy change could now follow.
Such developments had ground to a halt in the 1980s. It was into this atmos-
phere in 1993 that the new right-wing government could bring its proposals for
reform of nationality and immigration laws, citing the texts of Marceau Long's
Commissions as a virtual bible, and have them passed easily. The left could no
longer tenably argue against these laws without a good deal of hypocrisy;
having themselves been co-architects of the theoretical foundations on which the
new Code de la Nationalit stands. Tellingly, the only effective juridical resistance
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to some of the measures has come from an international human rights perspec-
tive, using international norms to challenge the nationally specific norms of the
French policies (Soysal 1994). The multicultural social movements have faded or
tamely given in to endorsing more universalist and republican rhetoric. Mean-
while, local political representation of immigrants can only make headway with
multicultural goals by adapting and bending the official citizenship idiom to
their ends (Poinsot 1993; Wieviorka 1996).
Without doubt, there are a whole series of virtues to be found in the strongly
idealist French theory of citizenship, and its application to 'ethnic dilemmas', not
least its strong anti-relativism. The neo-republican ideologues have made much
of the positive effects of this institutional framework. The relatively convincing
way in which open racial discrimination as such has been eliminated from
public life in France, or the apparently successful way that East Asian immi-
grants have thrived, economically and culturally, in the republican environment,
are often mentioned. France boasts high levels of inter-racial marriage, ethnic
representation in the public sector and in political life, and high numbers of
successful naturalisations compared with other European countries (Todd 1994).
In other ways, this performance is tarnished by a number of interlinked
problems that are directly related to the negative, pathological effects that a
strongly pro-active and self-styled progressive philosophy of republican citizen-
ship can have when politically influential.
The most obvious 'sore spot' is the problematic position that the philosophy
imposes on cultural and ethnic groups in French political life. These groups by
definition are not allowed to mobilise officially as 'ethnic minorities' - both
'ethnic' and 'minority' being terms not accepted in the French political vocabu-
lary and in the official demographic categories - despite the fact that this is
obviously how the groups behave and mobilise in reality. This can be seen to cut
off channels of representation to the groups, channels that have often success-
fully aided integration in other countries. Further, French maghrbin groups have
increasingly been viewed as a problem in terms of their religious denomination
- as Muslims - because of the way in which the problem of intgration is
exemplified in the central reports and public reflections. Given the overly
idealised individualist definition of the public sphere, the place of religion and
culture in schools and society generally has surfaced repeatedly as an issue:
Islam lacking the formal public status enjoyed by other established religions in
the ancient lacit laws.
Citizenship and immigration: pathologies of a progressive philosophy 185

L'affaire du foulard - when three Muslim girls were excluded from a school in
the Parisian banlieue in 1989 - and the enormous public scandal and debate that
ensued has become the classic example. The ongoing institutional developments
of this case indeed demonstrate the 'epicyclical' motion of heavily constrained
policy adaptation. The then education minister, Lionel Jospin, torn between
opposing wings of his own party, asked instead for an extraordinary avis from
the Conseil d'Etat, which itself produced an unprecedented 'jurisprudential' piece
of judgement that devolved responsibility to school heads and local regions. This
quieted, but also perpetuated, the problem that has repeated itself several times
between 1989 and 1994: with contradictory interventions from successive minis-
ters, staunchly republican local mayors upholding the hard line, and local
conseils deciding in favour of pupils. The issue has continued to be a potent
symbolic stand off, the perfect fuel for the more 'fundamentalist' sections of the
Muslim population in France; not least because the republican stance is itself
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clearly a fundamentalist position.


Another bizarre adaptation was the brief and ineffective career of the CORIF
(Conseil de Reflexion sur l'Islam en France). Here, an official body of reflection
brought together the principal French imams to represent the 'Muslim' immi-
grant population as a whole. Predictably - given the unrepresentativeness of this
idea - the body was paralysed by intra-denomination rivalries, until Charles
Pasqua wound it up and reverted to the old habit of recognising only the official
Algerian dominated Mosque de Paris. Also, there were the attempts by French
courts to bring non-French nationals from Islamic countries under their jurisdic-
tion - in charged symbolic cases involving the mistreatment of women and
children - by circumventing both national and European jurisdiction in the
name of international human rights. Arguing that French national law best
incarnates public international legal criteria of human rights, it was said that it
should be applied to Muslim family cases in virtue of their residence on French
territory; and this despite being in contradiction to the criteria for political
membership set out in the official reports (Pastore 1994).
One further blindspot can be observed in the continuing jarring between the
application and extension of social rights in France to non-nationals, and the
exclusive logic of the citizenship idiom in France, which is argued for as if such
non-national residents did not exist (Lochak 1991). Judgements applied by the
European Court of Justice (ECJ) about the welfare rights of non-French nationals
resident in the country have been brought to bear despite this (GISTI 1994).
Evidence of disagreements in the ratification and application of Euro-norms
indicate the kind of institutional inconsistencies inherent in an official citizenship
paradigm that is only able to think through the bounded, national dimension of
the problems. But one of the large costs involved in transforming the very
nationalist and politically oriented theory of integration in France, is the fact that
it would likely involve a very sharp decentralisation of powers over culture and
education in France, and bring with it the renewed threat that political pluralism
and cultural regionalism would react strongly against the elite Parisian centre.
Such structural changes have in fact been forced in economic and business
spheres, but it is clear that one key strategy of the French central elite during the
1980s was to hold on to its powers in other, more cultural, spheres of public life,
with the question of immigrants and intgration the pivotal issue. The rationale
of human rights, minority rights, and social rights attached to localised residence
status, all clearly sit badly with the bounded and idealised political sphere of
186 A. Favell

French citizenship, which is claimed to be the essential causal a priori pre-


condition for successful integration. Yet it is hard to believe that these other
'excluded' rights - which, despite all the rhetoric do often exist in local French
legal and bureaucratic practice - might not themselves be likely presuppositions
for harmonious social integration. Perhaps the most serious oversight in this
connection is the overlaying of the question of insertion - seen in socio-economic
terms of poverty and inequality - with all kinds of cultural and ethical worries.
This has left official French public policy struggling for an integration language
with which to conceptualise and diagnose the chronic and strongly racialised
'inner city' decay of the French banlieues (Body-Gendrot 1993).
It is too early to see the full path of development and effects of the new
institutional framework that emerged in France in the 1980s, although this
account should indicate the numerous problem spots that have been shown up
over time, together with its powers of adaptation. It needs comparison with
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other national cases, particularly in relation to European developments. France


indeed is singly out of tune with European efforts to harmonise regulation and
anti-discrimination laws concerning migrants. The French 'public philosophy'
came together with little or no reference or thought to the European question,
and as a result the country has been increasingly out of step with its European
partners on questions of immigration and minority rights. The issue of European
citizenship and its effect on France (something which has been embraced
positively in other political spheres) is rarely explicitly discussed in relation to
the citizenship question of les immigrs. With a theory of citizenship and
integration based entirely on atavistic nationalist concerns about identity and
political culture, this is no surprise. Despite signing the Schengen agreement,
France has not put it into effect, and has recently gone back to self-sufficient
policing of its own borders. Along with Britain, France has also been the only
country to vote against new anti-discrimination measures being formulated by
the Council of Europe and the Commission - because of their inconsistency with
the specifics of France's own 'superior' approach. Not least among the unexpec-
ted outcomes of the recent triumph of neo-republicanism in France, has been the
extent to which many on the left are happy to identify themselves with the new
Gaullist international agenda, the national 'repli sur soi-mme', and an ever-
strengthening rejection on 'progressive' grounds of further European cooper-
ation (see Todd 1996).

Immigration and the politics of citizenship elsewhere


France, in this account, is an ideal case of the kind of theoretical model set out
above. It follows closely the dynamics which were presented: the process of a
public problem emerging, the timing and shaping of an institutional solution,
and the kind of characteristic effects that can be expected over time. Moreover,
it demonstrates an ideal type of 'bounded' policy formation in a single nation
state: a highly centralised, and predominantly unified state at that. A similar
analysis can be made of Britain's treatment of immigration and integration
problems, only with very different timing, and a rather different institutional
solution. Here, it was in the late 1960s and early 1970s that an institutional
solution came together, wrought by the mainstream political parties in the face
of similar expansionary 'fundamental' challenges, led by the anti-immigrant
right wing Conservative, Enoch Powell (Freeman 1979; Katznelson 1973). Out of
Citizenship and immigration: pathologies of a progressive philosophy 187

this crucible came a similarly stable and distinctive national response - built on
the basis of a compromise consensus on the legal institutions of race relations
and the evolution of a certain idea of multicultural pluralism (Parekh 1990; Rex
1991). This distinctly British philosophy has held its ground, despite the spec-
tacular breakdown in the political consensus over other issues during the
Thatcherite period of the 1980s (Crowley 1992; Messina 1989; Saggar 1991).
In the British case, there have been a full 25 years to observe the benefits and
pathologies of the British path of development (Favell 1998, forthcoming). What
can be noted first in this connection is the incongruousness of the retrospective
reemergence of citizenship talk, particularly the evocation in public debates of
the Marshallian perspective at the end of the 1980s. In these, Britain too began
to reflect seriously on the bases of national unity and community, setting up its
own Commission on Citizenship (report of 1990; see Crouch 1992; Dahrendorf
1990). Britain's 'track record' on the multicultural accommodation of ethnic
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minorities and its advanced race-relation legislation is often proudly cited as an


example of the distinctly British way of building social unity through the
incremental extension of rights, citizenship and membership to new and mar-
ginal groups. However, a closer look at the institutions of multicultural race
relations suggests that this is merely a post hoc justification for an institutional
solution that functions on a very different rationale to Marshall's classic Fabian
defence of welfarist national citizenship. In fact, the Thatcher decade destroyed
many of the institutional conditions that had founded the success of British
multiculturalism: which is based on strong local political institutions, classic
pluralistic representation through the 'unions' and 'guilds' of ethnic cultural
groups, and autonomous local education and social policy powers. Under these
conditions, the revised vision of Marshall as underlying the ideal voluntary
creed of local good citizenship - with 'active' ethnic minority groups its paragon
of participatory involvement - in fact looked rather like a rhetorical whitewash
in the face of declining community in Britain (Nicholls 1994).
The British solution to the problem of social integration raised by post-war
immigration is, rather, presupposed on a kind of trivialisation of the strong
normative values and ideals of citoyennet as it would be understood in France,
in particular its emphasis on formal political structures and participation. Unlike
in France, the tough ongoing external control of immigration and nationality law
is strictly disconnected and disassociated in its justification from the 'progress-
ive' internal mechanisms set up to assure the social and political integration of
the original immigrant groups who came in the 1950s and 1960s. The doors
could thus be shut early and firmly, without any attempt to justify this on
universalist grounds, or to formulate just or ethical criteria of naturalisation for
future cases. The ethnic minorities 'already here' became British by virtue of
residence, with no further conditions attached. They were, in other words,
accepted as part of Britain's national Commonwealth 'responsibility', not on any
humanistic grounds (Dummett and Nicol 1990). Later migrants and asylum
seekers, therefore, have no such claims. The integration of the original Common-
wealth minorities was not seen to depend on any kind of political integration
through active political participation as citizenship; nor were they given any
special formal rights as minorities. Rather, all integration was devolved to local,
civil-society-based arenas, in which the recognised groups could associate and
petition for representation as distinct black or Asian 'racial' groups ('racial' here
being a euphemism for ethnic cultural groups). A curiously British form of
188 A. Favell

public order management, based on old colonial race categories - the anti-dis-
crimination Race Relations Acts - was also instituted as a kind of security valve
of symbolic representation, falling well short of the US style civil rights legis-
lation it purportedly adapts. In this respect, the famed British 'tolerance' of
different cultural and racial groups is more dependent on their being loyal
Commonwealth 'subjects' of the Crown, rather than being full citizens of a
rights-based constitutional pluralist regime.
This pragmatic trade-off of institutions and venues was effectively put to-
gether by a progressively minded, cross-party, white utilitarian elite, concerned
about the reaction of the white majority population and keeping the issue as far
away as possible from mainstream politics. It was a medium-term institutional
solution, designed to get Britain past the damaging early experience of racial
conflict and white majority reaction in the 1960s and 1970s. The institutional
solution did, however, allow for a good deal of incremental evolution. Race
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categories have evolved to include other non-racial cultural and ethnic group-
ings ('Asian' then 'Jewish', 'Sikh', even 'Irish'), however absurd the legal
contortions. More importantly, in places where ethnic minorities are visible and
well represented in public life, Britain has indeed seen the emergence of a
soft-edged kind of multiculturalism, best seen in the cultural life of certain
multi-ethnic cities.
From a comparative perspective, it is easy to highlight the kinds of blindspots
and pathologies typical of the British solution. From a 'strong' citizenship
perspective, the paucity of political rights and public sphere representation can
be underlined; something which has been most felt by migrants and asylum
seekers who do not fall into the category of the 'special' responsibility common-
wealth minorities. British immigration laws and practices continue to be some of
the harshest and most hostile in Europe, with all attempts to infuse them with
a more rational economic grounding - let alone a more just rights-based one -
refused by successive Home Secretaries. Equally, no coverage under the race
relations anti-discrimination law can be brought to bear on immigration prac-
tices (Spencer 1994). The evolution of multiculturalism has suited parts of the
Asian population adapted to thriving in close-knit cultural groupings. However,
the accent on fighting racialised poverty and inner city discrimination has fallen
away over the years, in favour of more symbolic cultural issues. Given their
poorer background, and the fact that the religious category of 'Muslim' has
repeatedly been refused recognition in anti-discrimination laws, Muslim groups
have become increasingly disenchanted and militant over the years (Modood
1992). The Rushdie affair was a spectacular epicentre of these frustrations; as
have been recent Muslim riots in northern cities.
What is even more noticeable, however, has been the growing scale of the
European problem over ethnic and migrant policy issues, and the constitutional
crisis over sovereignty of which this is a part. This is essentially because of the
weak degree of institutionalisation in Britain of the normative demands of
citizenship ideals and values that are so much stronger elsewhere. Time and
again, British anti-discrimination legislation and its limitations have been chal-
lenged successfully in the European courts: though no attempt has as yet been
made to bring British legislation in line with the human rights-based European
norms (Lester 1994; Storey 1994). Moreover, Britain has been particularly
obstructive over European attempts to cooperate over migration and anti-
discrimination policy. An unholy alliance of the Home Office and left-wing race
Citizenship and immigration: pathologies of a progressive philosophy 189

relations activists have rejected European proposals in these fields, and instead
promoted the idea of selling race relations to 'racist' Europe, with an arrogant
degree of confidence in the advanced state of British legislation and performance
in these areas (Neveu 1994). British thinking appears trapped in a peculiar
institutional path that became established at a time and in a way that paid no
heed to current European migration or citizenship questions, only to the experi-
ence of the British colonial past. There are very few British advocates of public
policy on immigration or integration able or willing to think outside of the
island-bound 'little England' paradigm for treating ethnic minorities, and its
curious ancien rgime style of political logic.
What can be noted in relation to France and Britain compared with other
national cases, is that the earlier a progressive national solution came together
over immigration and integration, the higher the degree of problems that that
nation will have over typical European questions of immigration and citizen-
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ship: questions such as the transnational migration of asylum seekers or third


country nationals, or the political and social rights of non-nationals and resident
foreigners. Latecomers to a liberal solution to the dilemmas of immigration have
indeed embraced the European arena as a way out of problems that seemed
insoluble at the national level. In Belgium, for example, the federal administrat-
ive structures and the tolerance of and welfare-support of large numbers of
resident non-nationals are well suited to new European proposals, thus raising
progressive hopes despite Belgium's poor record in putting together positive
anti-discrimination laws for minorities or in producing a coherent policy of
integration (Favell and Martiniello 1997). In Germany, meanwhile, the govern-
ment has sought to deflect its problems by transforming the 'ethnic' based idea
of German nationality or reforming its naturalisation procedures into new
European proposals on citizenship that might fit with Germany's federalised
and social-rights-oriented way of promoting integration. Both might be taken as
examples of 'post-national' citizenship being grasped as the political way for-
ward (Soysal 1994). The idea of post-national citizenship upturns the classic,
territory-based idea of citizenship, relocating rights at a supra-national, juridical
level beyond the nation state, and opening up new non-state arenas for pluralist
lobbying and pressure groups. Critiques by outsiders of these complex national
adaptations are typically unfair to them, when they continue to emphasise the
sacred nationalist bond between nationality, citizenship and rights, despite the
pathological effects this kind of public philosophy can be shown to have (Weil
1996). It should be remembered that both Belgium and Germany have had to
deal with far higher percentage levels of foreigners and immigrants, and
typically have better social welfare records. It may well be, then, that it is the
British and French models that will have to adapt and progress in these areas.
Such a comparative framework need not be restricted to Western Europe. The
return of citizenship - in connection with a reopened national debate on
immigration and integration - has also become a live subject in North America.
Contrasting debates in Qubec and the rest of Canada shadow, to a certain
degree, the differences in emphasis and outlook between the French and
'Anglo-Saxon' philosophies, but deplaced into a very alien North American
constitutional legal culture. Meanwhile, in the USA, the rhetoric of civic repub-
licanism and the classic idea of the American creed has been adopted by a range
of liberal and conservative commentators despairing in the face of the apparent
individualistic breakdown of community, and extraordinary levels of inter-
190 A. Favell

ethnic tension and conflict (Bellah 1985; Etzioni 1993). The issue of citizenship
and what it 'means' and 'requires' to be American, has become a central theme
in the use of illegal immigration as a political issue in states such as California
(Schuck and Smith 1985). Both of these rhetorical uses of citizenship themes
show characteristic expansionary and inflationary tactics. Indeed by conflating -
in the name of the American creed - the issue of immigration with citizenship,
racial and ethnic problems and the absurdities of middle class 'multicultural'
campus politics, commentators have been able to mount a new neo-conservative
challenge on cultural and ethical grounds to liberal social policies generally
(Brimelow 1995; Mead 1986; Schlesinger 1992). In effect, this amounts to a
backhand way of avoiding the fact that the classic American ethnic dilemma -
the treatment and position of blacks in the USA - remains predominantly a
question of socio-economic poverty and racial discrimination (Hacker 1992;
Wilson 1987).
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Citizenship talk and the 'end of equality'


Despite the varieties of citizenship talk audible across Western Europe and
North America, some general comments about general tendencies can be made.
Given the right circumstances, the normative idea of citizenship can be rightly
thought of as a key progressive element of traditional liberal enlightened
thought, and it has indeed often inspired the progressive extension of political
rights, recognition and political participation to immigrants and ethnic minori-
ties. However, as shown in this study, its prevalence in current liberal political
debate and the ambiguities of its applied use in national political contexts may
also mask the kinds of pathological effects an over-emphasis on the classic
concerns of citizenship - rights, participation, membership, the public sphere, etc
- can have, when it is used as an exclusive frame for discussing immigration and
integration issues.
This is because the working through of these issues in public policy often sees
the question of social integration overlaid with concerns about cultural or ethical
diversity as problems for 'national identity'. Policy makers begin to theorise
citizenship, not only .in terms of the rights and entitlements it grants to
immigrants, but in terms of the moral and cultural demands it makes of new
members as proof of their new allegiance and identification with the nation.
Social integration failure thus begins to be seen as a question of religious or
value conflict, or cultural diversity; of immigrants not deserving their new
membership and rights. In the 1960s and 1970s, integration failure in France,
Britain and elsewhere would have been much more likely to have been
identified in socio-economic terms: of relative poverty and disadvantage, or as
a symptom of urban concentration, unemployment, poor housing and social
facilities. Citizenship was not necessary as a frame to identify and discuss such
problems. The rise of multicultural citizenship concerns in public policy has,
while rightly opening up new channels of recognition for ethnic minorities and
their cultural demands, also encouraged policy makers to indulge increasingly in
the rhetorical discussion of national identity, cultural and ethical issues rather
than more fundamental socio-economic ones.
This shift in the interpretation of the central enjeux of the question of
integration has accompanied a wider decline in confidence in interventionist
social policies, indeed a genuine decline in the real powers of the state to
Citizenship and immigration: pathologies of a progressive philosophy 191

successfully apply any policy in practice. The return of citizenship talk, then,
despite its progressive allure, may also be masking something which has been
well recognised against the wider issues connected with the decline of the
welfare state: the 'end of equality' as both a normative background principle and
a substantive redistributional goal (Kaus 1992). In this respect, current tenden-
cies in both North America and Western Europe seem closer than their apparent
national differences might suggest. It is sadly ironic that the return of citizenship
- as a frame for raising questions about cultural pluralism, national membership
and multicultural rights (see, for instance, Baubck 1994; Kymlicka 1995) - has
reinterpreted equality in broad cultural and ethical terms, over-shadowing the
more important accent on rectifying socio-economic criteria that gave it such
progressive power in the past (Lukes 1992).

The comparative research agenda


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It is no accident that the kind of comparative framework and approach sug-


gested here is most appropriate in the context of the growing comparative
research programme being developed by a range of predominantly American-
based scholars of immigration and citizenship politics in Western Europe (Blatt
1995; Brubaker 1992; Cornelius et al. 1994; Feldblum 1993; Freeman 1992, 1995;
Guiraudon 1998, forthcoming; Hollifield 1992a, b; Ireland 1994; Joppke 1998,
forthcoming; Schain 1988, 1993; Soysal 1993, 1994). Working in a fluid inter-dis-
ciplinary area between political sociology and comparative politics, these writers
have introduced theoretical and methodological tools that transcend the strict
comparative limitations of home-based studies by indigenous European writers.
This has been clearly apparent in the difficulties of certain British writers to
break out of rather restrictive race- and racism-based theoretical preoccupations
as they have turned their attention to mainland Europe (Miles 1993; Solomos
and Wrench 1993; compare Baumgartl and Favell 1995). Many French writers
display a parallel inability to study other European and North American cases
as anything more than caricaturally negative counter-models for the cherished
republican model in France (Kepel 1994; Schnapper 1992; Todd 1994; an excep-
tion is Costa-Lascoux and Weil 1992). Both kinds of writing, curiously enough,
end up flying the flag for the superiority and advanced level of their own
country's institutions and policies on ethnic minorities, however critical they
would be in studies limited to their home country. The American-led compara-
tive research also takes citizenship and immigration studies out of its intellectu-
ally restrictive disciplinary ghetto in 'racial and ethnic studies', and locates it in
relation to core cutting-edge theoretical questions in sociology and political
science. These link the question of citizenship and social integration with
broader questions about political economy, welfare, inequality and democracy.
As I hope to have shown, thinking about this particular policy area in terms
of an institutionalist-type analysis also offers the chance of studying the dynam-
ics of institutional formation, change and performance within a theoretical frame
that promises to combine explanatory and normative concerns. A great deal
more needs to be known about the role of normative ideas in politics and the
policy process, particularly the unintended effects of progressive interventions.
As the case of immigration shows, advocates of the theory and politics of
citizenship may be far short of being fully aware of some of the possibly
negative effects of this frame for policy justification.
192 A. Favell

Acknowledgement
I would like to thank the Leverhulme Trust, London for their financial assist-
ance; the Chaire Hoover d'thique conomique et sociale at the Universit
catholique de Louvain for nominating me Hoover Fellow 1995-1996; and
CEVIPOF for being my host in Paris.

Note
1 This article is based on a full-length study of France and Britain which is forthcoming in 1997
(Adrian Favell, Philosophies of Integration: Immigration and the Idea of Citizenship in France and
Britain, London: Macmillan/New York: St Martin's Press).

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