The movement of the Indignados as a recent form of political and civic participation that emerged in Spain in May 2011, when this research was finished... followed by the youth riots in the UK and the killings in Norway in July, demonstrates that there are several forms of participation and that the presence of young adult migrants or descendants is crucial in this field.
To participate or not to participate: that is the question. For the young adult migrants and descendants that have shared their lives with us in Barcelona, Nancy, Genoa, London, Tallinn, Gothenburg and Oslo, Hamlet’s dilemma could be phrased in the form of a classical saying : ‘it is not the winning but the taking part that counts’.
Meaning that active citizenship (that is, the participation in political and civic organizations, not only as users but also as protagonists) could be seen as one of the key factors in entering the realm of social inclusion within the host society. Nevertheless, in the life stories that we have collected, the rules and outcomes of this game are far from being clear and unambiguous. Above all: the arena where this game is played overreaches the pitch of single localities or places, and crosses both the frontiers of the nation-state and those of traditional ethnic identities.
Case 1: To participate in political activities does not avoid one feeling excluded.
Case 2. Not feeling part of the Us is a result of being seen as suspicious by what is considered to be the maistream of society
Case 3. The adquisition of citizenship provide opportuities to access other markets, but does’nt solve all the problems
Case 4. The permision to reside an work is not related to the right to vote, what is lived as a clear barrier to participation
Case 5. In social democratic welfare regimes, people use to have a lot of friends in the host society, even if they can also look to reforce its ethnic social networks
Case 6. In liberal welfare regimes, young immigrants are left exposed and have to depend on their own luck
Case 7. In conservative welfare regime as the Mediterranean, people need to use social networks as substitutive for the provisions of the state
Case 8. In conservative welfare regime as the Continentals, people seems to be conditioned by their origin and by the zone they live, using social networks as ethnic tools to face discrimination
Participation can be related to the idea of citizenship, but the relations between both are complex enough.
365 days of reflection per year beause as migrants I have not the right to vote... Citizenships?
Being Heard or Being Seen.To Participate or Not To Participate Oriol Romaní, Carles Feixa, Andrea Latorre IGIA (Barcelona) – University of Lleida
IntroductionThe concept of ‘global citizenship’ is useful forextending Marshall’s (1950) classic three dimensionaldefinition of citizenship: civic, political and social. Thearena of citizenship is extended to: a) economic and cultural rights and duties; b) ICT are added to traditional citizenship institutions; c) the transnational level is added to classic nation-building.The participation of young adult migrants is a keyarena for these changes, not only because as youngpeople they are pioneers within the digital society, but alsobecause they move across national and social boundaries,living ‘global ethnoscapes’ and ‘transnational connections’.
Engaged citizenshipsThe decline of traditional political participation coexistwith news forms of participation, passing from a "duty-based citizenship" to an "engaged citizenship"(Dalton, 2007), with diverse manifestations such ascommunity-volunteer work, local support, or participationin demonstrations.Young adult immigrants are partly involved in thistransformation of the modes of participation in Europeansocieties, contributing to the redefinition of the civic mapof the city.
The 3 welfare regimesThe material collected is discussed according to thetypology proposed by Esping-Andersen (2002) for thecountries with welfare states: •the social democratic welfare regime (Norway and Sweden); •the liberal welfare regime (UK); •and the conservative welfare regime •the Mediterranean countries (Spain and Italy), where the family and the civil society realize substitutive functions •and the Continentals, France, with large government presence, and Estonia, with significant market penetration.
Forms of participationThe main aim of this chapter is to consider the aspectsof young adult immigrants participation that are mostpertinent to their processes of social inclusion andexclusion. We will focus on the continuum between thetwo classical social fields where the game of participationis played out and solved (both for the winners and losers): formal participation, the field of political and civic inclusion/ exclusion; and informal participation, the field of community and peer network inclusion/exclusion.We will use the Extended Case Method (Buraway, 2000)in the form of illustrative biographcal cases
a) Formal AssociationsIt is important to put political participation among youngmigrants in the kinds and level of participation among youngpeople in general.According to data EUROSTAT (2009) about politicalparticipation among European youth, neither the belonging topolitical parties nor trade unions is very high in Europeancountries: young people affiliate themselves more withrecreational, religious or civic organizations. In general, men areslightly more active than women in political parties, tradeunions, professional associations and significantly more active inrecreational groups, while women’s participation is somewhathigher in religious or charitable organizations (EUYOUPART,2003).
Political ParticipationPolitical inclusion is related to whether one experiencesthe political system as representative for oneself, alsoinvolves participating in politics through voting or having avoice in the public sphere, and is related to the experience ofbeing heard by the authorities, such as social welfareoffices, public care institutions and schools (Fangen, 2009).The transnational perspective of the social sciences warnsagainst a «national container» type of thinking, where thenation state is taken as a given, and as the most importantunit to analyze (Wimmer and Schiller, 2002), still the nationstate in itself is built on the distinction between us who areinside and them who are outside (Fangen, 2010), and thebarrier of us and them is imposed in different ways.
Inter-cultural citizenshipEspecially in Mediterranean countries, there are a significantnumber of people without access to legal recognition thatguarantees their rights (except voting), and the residencepermit. The importance that subjects give to legalrecognition goes beyond a matter of rights and obligations ofcitizens, that it has to do with dignity, with feeling valued, withthe fact of no longer feeling as "other", to continue toconstitute a new us that, in the new Europe being built, mustinvolve not only social inclusion, but also political and culturalrepresentation of the diversity in our societies, moving in thedirection of inter-cultural citizenship.
Civic ParticipationAssociative activities and voluntary work occur with a relativefrequency among young immigrants. There is a clear contrastbetween those oriented to work towards their own community(whether from a political standpoint or practising social assistance)and those who practice a kind of civic participation that is highlyintegrated with the model of the host society, and in a continuitywith their more strictly political activity.Perhaps this contrast reflects different positions in the mode ofinclusion in society, which could correspond to a selectiveacculturation and a full acculturation respectively, following themodel of segmented integration that Portes et al (1993, 2007)proposed for second generation immigrants. In the first modality,solidarity and community ties are the key for an integration thatimproves living conditions, while the second refers to assimilationinto the dominant culture.
Barriers to Participation Those who do not participate in civic organisationsargue that it is down to a lack of time, or to save energy todedicate to personal projects. It also reflects the necessity toprioritize certain life aspects, such as education or work. Thesefactors, as much as they limit time for participation,paradoxically constitute strategies for insertion within the hostsociety. In any case, the possibilities for success are diverse,dedicating time to academic training and to bettering lifeconditions, involving long working days in precarious jobs, isnot the same.
Case 1: Mustafa (21, male, Turkey/Norway)Last year I was in Young Liberals and I was part of the citycouncil. […] They did not call me because they liked me so well;they said that right to my face. They just wanted my name on thelist, because it sounded foreign. […] When they called me and said:«yes, your name, it sounds different, and we want it on the list», Ijust said «all right». I mean it is fine. Why not? I had nothing to lose.[…]. I will improve my standing within the party by having been onthe list. That was what I was thinking, that it could give me anadvantage, better than nothing, they think of me as different. It wasthe opportunities I was thinking of.
Case 2: Edrin (25, male, Albania/Italy)It would be ok if Italian society were not so discriminatory andracist. The point is the fact that I am no one here and I have tokeep in mind always that my rights are not the same as yours. It iseasy for you here….you go out and walk at night in the old townand if the police stop you it is fine, you have Italiandocuments….but for me it is much tougher, I can be stopped andquestioned even if I do have documentation, the police can doanything to me, and if I react I am charged. Do you think that thiswould happen to you? The police are only brave with people likeme, when they catch an Italian they are always attentive as they donot want to be accused of mistreatment but with immigrants….no problem, they can mistreat them with no fear of theconsequences…
Case 3: Natasha (23, female, Estonia/Russia)Where is my home? I do not know. Russia is not my home. Iwas there several times, but I do not feel this is my home, butI have a red passport [Russian citizenship] (...) Yes, just in thebeginning I was thinking to apply for an Estonian passport,because I had this opportunity to get it without any trouble,just because the people who were born that time when I washad this… I told myself, I’ll go and get it. But they, myparents, asked me ‘why would you do that? If you take theblue one you will not be able to go to Russia without a visa.Wait a little bit, Schengen will come soon.
Case 4: Jade (19, female, Melilla/Catalonia)J.: Yes, I can work but I can not vote. I can not votehere for two more years here in the country and that istoo many years, huh?I: Would you like to vote you say?J.: Yes.I: Why?J.: Because we live in a democracy and now that we havea democracy maybe I could speak my mind, why not?Although it is indignant [politics and politicians], butanyway. I want do it.
b) Informal GroupsAccording to recent research, the participatory practices of youngpeople are not oriented especially towards spectacular anti-stateactivism or cultural politics but take the form of informal,individualized and everyday activities (Harris et al., 2010). However,this would be substantive motion on which are expressed directparticipation practices, such as movement associated with the “anti-globalization”, the demonstrations of democratic protests in Arabcountries, or more recent demonstrations to the “15-M Movement”in Spain, Greece or Israel.Here we will discuss informal, individualized and everyday typesof participation found mainly through friends, neighbours andrelatives: the openness and density of social networks, and thediversity of ethnic relations, could be indicators for social inclusion orexclusion.
Social NetworksThe empirical material analyzed in these research confirmsthe central importance of social networks in processes ofinclusion – exclusion, and at the same time the diversity ofcontents that they put into circulation in the said socialnetworks. Social networks are configured in relationshipsestablished in the physical and virtual spaces. The mutualsupport, wich would be the concept that could synthesize themain function carried out by these social networks, translatesinto very different aspects of life, such as guidance on how tomove around in the host society, work, leisure, affection, etc.
Networks and Welfare RegimesBoth in the conservative regime of Mediterranean societies(Spain and Italy) and in the liberal regime (UK), social networksmore or less oriented toward their own ethnic groups or thosenearby, are key to give access to different aspects of the hostsociety, thus facilitating the bridges towards inclusion. Inclusioncan be more or less limited, but becomes virtually impossiblewhen there are no such social networks. We also found thatwhen social networks are dense and varied, they can facilitate asuccessful process of inclusion in society of weak states asSpain, but also play a complementary role in welfare states asNorway.
Case 5: Jasmina (25, female, Bosnia/Norway)I simply think that to be able to create a network hasmade me better at getting a job.It’s not about discrimination; it’s just that I in thatmoment [when she calls them] feel like talking to them, inBosnian.Oslo was a much bigger town, with many people fromdifferent countries. (…) and in Oslo I started listening toBosnian music and thought it could be nice to visit Bosniaand see how things are going there.
Case 6: Juan de la Cruz (26, Male, Philippines/UK)I have friends from the Philippines, from Mauritius,yeah, basically that is it. Indian, Asian, other Asian racesas well, but not white. It is not that maybe our languagebarrier is there, but actually we can feel that they are tryingto show that, yeah, we are above you, yeah, that is whatthey feel.
Case 7: Alejandro (26, male, Colombia/Spain)I am a very selective person with my Latino friends... There is aprofile of the Latino which is the one you can see most in here, tome, it is the profile of somebody who feels... like resentment towardsEurope, like they are discriminating against me all the time. Theyhave not been able to overcome their inferiority complex, theyalways go with people from...Colombia or with Latinos in general.But on the other hand the Colombian friends I have are... fine. Theyare people with... who in general they do go with other Latin peopleand all, they make all the difference, have an education, they havegood jobs, maybe not wonderful but... they have more manners, onecan invite them some day to meet my... Let’s say that out of everyfour times that I go out with Catalans, I go out once withColombians.
Case 8: Barbara (20, Female, France/ Morocco)Well, I like... the relationship we have with everyone, with all thepeople of our region or another region, the French, the Turks ...there is no ... I don’t see many racists here, most are normal, theyspeak with us as when they speak with someone normal, thatdoesn’t change. When we leave the area, well, we hear a lot of... theArabs...- When you hear this, how do you react?I don’t even react. If I had to respond to everything you hear,then! Well, it’s up to us to manage, to know how to talk to people, ifthere are people who say to us "Oh, Arabs ...", and we don’trespond to all of that, we need to leave them alone, its as if theywere in Morocco and they said to them "Oh, the French" .
Final. Being Heard/Seen and Crossing BordersYoung adult migrants cross not onlygeographical/political borders but also biographical/social ones: they are moving into the host society but alsointo adulthood.This dual journey increases their vulnerability as ageneration, although it can strengthen them as individuals.The voices of the young people we have heard talk to usof sensations of contempt and rejection, but also ofmaturity and fight, of overcoming the difficulties ofparticipation. But their efforts to become independent andgain prominence are not always welcomed.
The young people do express their interest in becomingcitizens through the acquisition of the nationality of the hostcountry. Besides the positive effects this will have on their qualityof life, as taking part in the relative benefits of the WelfareSystem, it also has an impact on their political rights and theirsense of being part of the society they live in.But the lack of legal status, which is so important in havingaccess to the basic resources of integration, it is not an obstacle tosome of these young people practising methods between formaland informal participation, more centered on social andtransnational networks, made possible by new technologies.
The links between local and transnational networks, andbetween informal networks and institutions, are givenwithin the marker of us/them relationships which continueto be nation-states, but at the same time helps to create areality, increasingly dense, that lags widely.As we have seen from the standpoint of both formal andinformal participation, one of the outstanding issues to bediscussed by European citizens will be how to transformtheir political institutions so as they have a greater capacityfor inclusion of this new contemporary phenomenon thatgoes beyond classic migration, that is, transnationalism.
Mileuristas, Ni-Nis or Indignados?Last but not least: before being heard, youngadult migrants must be seen: not as dangerous“visible minorities”, but as potential “activecitizens”.