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Who needs integration? Debating a central, yet increasingly contested concept in migration studies

Integration is a pivotal concept in migration studies. When migration researchers want to describe how immigrants find their way in the new country, the term they use is integration. Yet, is ‘integration’ the term we should use? Since its inception the concept has been debated, but currently the very assumptions that the concept of integration rests on are being questioned. The concept aims to be descriptive, but is in fact normative, so claim some of its critics. It would suggest that immigrants’ integration requires that they identify with the country of settlement, socialize with the majority population, preferably through intermarriage, and take over the norms and values of the majority population. The host population is thus the norm to which immigrants should aspire. In the lead essay of this commentary series Willem Schinkel gives voice to this critique and many others. Is it that bad? Yes, worse even, so claims discussant Adrian Favell while Leila Hadj Abdou and Fran Meissner believe we should no throw away the baby with the bathwater and put forward suggestions for critical post-integration research, and Rinus Penninx,  and Lea Klarenbeek, critiquing the critique, explain why there is no reason to think that we should discard of the concept. We need integration.

Edited by Prof. Dr. Sawitri Saharso

  1. Over the years, some scholars have not only written against the concept of immigrant integration but have called for its rejection and abandonment. Critics argue that the concept is normative, objectifies othe...

    Authors: Senanu Kwasi Kutor, Godwin Arku and Elmond Bandauko
    Citation: Comparative Migration Studies 2023 11:9
  2. This is a rejoinder to the responses made to my paper ‘Against “immigrant integration”: For an end to neocolonial knowledge production’, which was based on my book Imagined Societies. A Critique of Immigrant Inte...

    Authors: Willem Schinkel
    Citation: Comparative Migration Studies 2019 7:32
  3. By way of a commentary on Willem Schinkel’s ‘Against “immigrant integration”: For an end to neocolonial knowledge production’ in this volume, I propose twelve propositions in order to rethink the academic use ...

    Authors: Adrian Favell
    Citation: Comparative Migration Studies 2019 7:21
  4. In this essay, I respond to Schinkel’s recent statement that ‘any claim and practice that concerns ‘integration’ should be the object of research, rather than the project of research’ (2018, p. 8). Although I ...

    Authors: Lea M. Klarenbeek
    Citation: Comparative Migration Studies 2019 7:20
  5. In his contribution, Willem Schinkel makes critical observations on the concept of immigrant integration and its use in Europe, specifically in the Netherlands. Three of these are agreeable: there is a lot of ...

    Authors: Rinus Penninx
    Citation: Comparative Migration Studies 2019 7:13

    The Correction to this article has been published in Comparative Migration Studies 2019 7:23