Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie

Cultural Distance as a Measure of Integration (with Bob White)

  • Wann 26.11.2018 von 18:00 bis 20:00
  • Wo Universitätsstraße 3b; 10117 Berlin; R002
  • Teilnehmer Prof. Bob White Prof. Talja Blokland
  • iCal

This talk is open to anybody interested in Urban Studies. No prior registration needed.

Prof. Bob White, Université de Montreal
Cultural Distance as a Measure of Integration:
Citizenship Tests and Moral Panic About Cultural Conformity

In the nations of the industrialized West where immigration is a state-based project intended to respond to economic and demographic problems, new forms of mobility (Nail 2016) and diversity (Vertovec 2007) have exacerbated concerns about the status of strangers (Simmel 1908). This new demographic reality amplifies local fears about difference, drawing on the tension between civic and ethnic identity that is central to history of the modern nation-state.

Over the last decade countries in Europe and North America have witnessed not only a backlash against various forms of state-sponsored multiculturalism, but also the emergence of exclusionary policy tools aimed at the selection of immigrants based on particular culturally-held beliefs or values. While there is nothing new about the idea of majorities imposing cultural norms and values on minorities, there is something different about these mechanisms, since increasingly they take on the status of legal documents and since in most cases (for example the recent policies proposed by the Trump administration) they are intended to keep certain categories of migrants from ever being able to enter the country, primarily on the basis of claims about cultural or religious beliefs.

This project, in collaboration with the Intercultural Cities Program of the Council of Europe, will draw from several recent examples of “cultural conformity” in immigration policy in order to show how the notion of culture is being used to discriminate against certain categories of migrants. The first phase of the research will set out to identify a typology of mechanisms based on preliminary research: tests, charters, contracts. The next phase of the research will involve a comparative analysis of policy mechanisms at the national level and will propose a set of concrete policy recommendations intended to help cities develop tools to test the knowledge of residents (not only immigrants) based on intercultural principles.




Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät
Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin



Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Universitätsstraße 3b
10117 Berlin