Becoming Europe: Immigration, Integration, and the Welfare State

In This Review

Becoming Europe: Immigration, Integration, and the Welfare State

By Patrick Ireland
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004
288 pp. $27.95

This is a remarkable treatment of Muslim, Turkish, and North African immigration and integration in western Europe, and of attendant changes in welfare policy. By examining in detail eight cities in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands with long histories of immigration and left-wing rule, Ireland finds that local ethnic relations are shaped more by institutional engineering (especially welfare systems) than they are by cultural factors. He explores a variety of policies, ranging from the promotion of "structural integration of individuals" to attempts at the "political-cultural integration of groups." (The former risks leading to "a stultifying version of assimilationism," the latter to "inequality and disparate incorporation.") In the end, despite all the tensions, the levels of political-cultural disconnection, residential segregation, and ethnic conflict have been lower in Europe than in the United States. With a combination of fine scholarship and level-headed evaluation, Ireland optimistically concludes that "as time passes, in fact, those foreigners are becoming Europe."

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