Integration or Assimilation of Migrants in Society?

Topics: European Union, Nationality law, Multiculturalism Pages: 10 (3050 words) Published: September 12, 2013
Integration or assimilation of migrants in society? Which policy is best for a country to adhere to?

By the different migration flows and globalization it is hard to deny; the European society is becoming a multicultural society. Many residents of the EU have a foreign nationality or have (grand) parents of foreign origin and cultural and religious diversity has increased. How are these newcomers supposed to behave, and what is expected from them? The question that will be addressed in this essay is: Integration or assimilation of migrants in society? Which policy is best for a country to adhere to? Give examples to illustrate your view point. This essay seeks to discuss the integration and assimilation policies by looking at the policies of numerous members of the European Union and in particularly of The Netherlands, France and Sweden. First, the two different policies will be examined and explained. Last, an explanation will be given on what is believed to be the best policy for a country to adhere to.

Different concepts

Through an adaptation process migrants acquire their own place in the host society. There are two factors that play an important role in the adaptation process. First, the attachment to the own cultural identity, and second the degree of contact with the host society. Different adaptation forms can be distinguished by using these two factors. The two adaptation forms integration will be discussed. What do these concepts mean and what are the consequences for migrants? (Wets, 2007)


Both assimilation and integration are mainly used with regard to immigrants who have settled in another country. Integration is the process by which various components merge into a whole. In sociology and politics, integration is a common term to identify the inclusion persons or several groups in society. With integration, it is typical that both groups, natives and migrants make adjustments. An important feature of integration is that the inclusion of persons or communities comes from both sides. Both the incoming party and the receiving party adapt to the other and thereby create the fusion between two persons or communities. The important thing about integration is that the individual cultures, and members of cultural communities, are welcomed and accepted for what they are. There is respect for the practices, beliefs and values of each others culture. Both groups may incorporate numerous cultural practices and make it their own. The minorities preserve some of their cultural values.


With assimilation there is a full acceptance of the values and lifestyles of the majority. The minority's takes over the cultural characteristics of the majority and abandon their cultural identity to eventually blend in the society. Assimilation thus, occurs when immigrants become unrecognizable from other members. The own cultural identity is abandoned. The result of this process is a homogenous, monocultural society. The idea of assimilation was the basis of the popular American melting-pot idea. The assimilation ideology rests on the premise that a multicultural policy leads to the disintegration and balkanization of society. The idea of assimilation is the underlying ideology of the extreme right parties in the Netherlands. They summarize their position together in the slogan: ''adapt or return'' (Loobuyck, 2011).

Migration as the Cause of Multicultural Society

The first migrants came because of guest worker programs. In the years between 1940 en 1950, it was mainly the migration from Southern-Europe (Greece, Italy and Spain) to Northern European countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France and others. In the 60's and 70's, mostly Turkish and Moroccans were recruited. Due to the oil crisis in 1973-74 an ''immigration stop'' was proclaimed meaning that the recruitment of foreign workers has been put op on hold. It was originally envisaged that it...

References: Baylis,J.,Smith,S.,Owens,P.(2008)The Globalization of World Politics. An Introduction to International Relations (4thed). Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press
Embassy of Sweden
How to become a French Citizen. Retrieved on May 30, 2011 from French Entré
Huddleston, T., Niessen, J
Immigration, Integration and Assimilation. (April 6, 2011). Retrieved May 30 from The Mackenzie Institute from:
'Turken moeten integreren niet assimileren ' . (2011, Fenruary 28). Retrieved June 8, 2011, from

Wets, J. (2007). Wat is inburgering in Vlaanderen? Conceptnota ‘inburgering’ in het kader van het VIONA- onderzoek. ‘Evaluatie van de inhoudelijke en financiële aspecten van het Vlaams
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