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Integration What Makes It A Success?

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    The European Union is an economic and political union full of diverse cultures and differing beliefs. Due to its geographic proximity to the Middle East and other Islamic countries, there is a significant number of Muslim immigrants entering the EU. The EU is comprised of 27 different countries each of which having their own policy and stance toward immigration. These different policies have led to success with some countries while others have been met with conflict and retaliation. To understand why some countries, have more success with immigrant integration this paper will focus on the comparison of France and Italy and what factors breed success. France and Italy are relatively similar yet speak a different language and have a completely different view on Muslim integration into their countries. The question to ask, is what is making the view on immigration differ, is its cultural factors, or merely how they go about integration in each country?

    The independent variable in this study is the view and feeling toward integration into two European countries, one being France and the other being Italy.  The dependent variable in this study is looking for what factor is affecting the feeling toward immigration whether it be culture or lack of representation. The unit of analysis in this study will be looking at differing factors that exist between France and Italy. France is a large country and one of the economic giants in the EU. The country is full of diversity and immigrants from all over the world. Macrotrends who gathered its data from the World Bank shows that the migrant population in France is roughly 7,784, 418 (World Bank). To compare, Italy another member of the EU has a migrant population of roughly 5,788,875 (World Bank).  France is near the top for the highest number of immigrants yet holds a favorable view compared to Italy even though it has more immigrants.

    Pew research shows us that only 29 % of the French population has negative views toward Muslims in the country yet 69% of Italians hold a negative view toward Muslims in the country (Hackett). Why would a country with a lower number of immigrants have such a higher negative view on immigrants, the answer lies in integration? To better understand this, we will look at “Marseille’s Melting Pot” by Christopher Dickey. The article by Dickey focuses on what makes such a diverse city in France be able to function so effectively with so many different backgrounds. The first important aspect to note is, in all of France there is no ethnic background tracking. This in a way eliminates affirmative action which can lead to a lack of fair or equal representation in the workplace and life. This is not exactly the case in Marseille. Many of the problems that were identified stem from lack of representation in the police force.

    As a result, the immigrants felt that they were viewed differently, and it was not their own people policing them but an institution that lacked fair representation. That said when looking at immigration there is two ways to go about it, Assimilation and Integration. Integration is much more long-term focuses on policies that preserve the culture and encourage adaptation (Jorde). Assimilation is a policy that encourages migrants to adopt practices and conform to the new state (Jorde). France is a country that heavily plays into assimilation. In Marseille the immigrants are put together in the city center around all of the French culture (Dickey). As a result, they learn to adjust to their new surroundings largely because they have to due to the surroundings. Furthermore, it gives the immigrants a sense of belonging they may have not previously felt when they are put in compounds way out of the city.

    In Marseille the stance on immigration is much more progressive as integration plays a large role and seeking to create functioning members of society rather that outcasts in other regions of France. That said it seems much of the attitude toward immigration is much more central to the location of where one lives as one who lives in Marseille will feel completely different than one who lives in Paris. Through the general analysis of how the French feel toward immigration and more specifically Muslim immigration we can see a positive trend. This positive trend is based on the feelings toward immigration, which we can see through data in a survey. Quite the opposite is occurring in Italy. Italy has a migrant population of 5,788,875, an overall smaller number than the migrant population that is present in France. That said Italy has a much larger negative feeling toward migrants following the trend of southern European countries feeling the same way. France takes a much more aggressive stance on their immigration opting for more assimilation and creating a French identity for the migrants.

    In Italy many of the native Italians understand the role that immigrants play in their society yet are reluctant to acknowledge them. “Immigration in Italy: Between Economic acceptance and Political Rejection” explains that “In their cultural representations, Italians tend to deny this reality, they do not want multi-ethnic societies” (Ambrosini). Furthermore, the article continues to talk about how Italians acknowledge the role the immigrants play in the economy yet went to not acknowledge this. While Marseille is far from this approach as they believe that after a certain level of integration individuals will begin to work and live together if they can meet on common ground and be represented fairly. Throughout the EU where immigrants live vary whether it be far from the city center or be amongst everyone else. To accomplish integration through housing, a country must have substantial public housing. Italy does not have substantial public housing. Italy when being compared to the national European average has a scare amount of housing and this number has not increased in the past 20 years even though the need has with an influx of immigrants (Ambrosini).

    A major issue in how integrated a country is may heavily depend on the amount of public housing available and the location. No individual will be welcomed and or a functioning important individual in society when they are far from a city center in a “closed off” sector of housing. Although there seems to be a correlation between available housing and attitude toward immigrants it is not the only cause of differing views between Italy and France. Often times these are economic immigrants looking for a higher paying job to be able to support their family in their home country. With the influx of immigrants paying in to the economy one could assume that they are beneficial to the country and not a burden. The Pew Research study conducted a survey on the opinions of citizens whether they think immigrants are a burden on the country or help to make it stronger. In France 39% felt that immigrants are a burden on the country while 56% felt the immigrants made the country stronger (Connor and Gonzalez-Barrera).

    Italy on the other hand had 54 % of who took the survey feel that immigrants are a burden on the country and only 12% felt immigrants made the country stronger (Connor and Gonzalez-Barrera). The attitude toward immigrants in both countries is clear, yet why one feels differently is harder to understand. France and Italy are both large countries that have a diverse population and differing views within its citizens. Another point of view that is often overlooked within Muslim immigrants and immigrants in general is their feeling about integration. Some seek integration as they move to their new home, yet others feel the opposite. In Italy 61% of the immigrants want to maintain a different level of identity or be distinct (Connor and Gonzalez-Barrera).

    Meanwhile in France only 44% wanted to be distinct (Connor and Gonzalez-Barrera). The 20% difference that exists with the immigrant’s views on a differing identity is certainly substantial. Just as the immigrants have their reasons for wanting to be distinct and not conform to the new country, the individuals who are from France or Italy also have their reasons, one main one being safety. One of the biggest pre-conceived notion that some have about Muslim immigrants is that, they believe they are more likely to commit violent crimes or terrorist acts. This data point is very interesting as France is a country that has had several very deadly terrorist attacks take place yet only 39 % of French citizens believe that immigrants will increase the chance of a terrorist attack (Connor and Gonzalez-Barrera). Italy on the other hand believes there is a 60 % increase of a potential terrorist attack with the increase of immigrants. This is very surprising as France has been known by other countries as high risk in regard to terrorist attacks, yet they still hold a rather favorable view.

    The European Union is grand, and each country adds value and deals with its own set of issues. France has learned how to integrate Muslim immigrants into certain cities such as Marseille with a decent amount of success. This could be due to the availability of housing in the city center, positive attitudes toward immigrants, and immigrants being open to change and adapting to a new place. Italy is a country that has been divided for many years through industrial change in the north while the south struggles to catch up. As a result, there is a high level of identity crisis already and is heightened with a rapid influx of immigrants. In conclusion the only way to understand how some countries handle integration of immigrants is to realize there is many different factors and it is hard to narrow down why some are more successful than others. Similar to most things in this world in the political realm, it is based on cultural history and understanding about previous events whether it be positive or negative.

    Works Cited

    1. Ambrosini, M. Immigration in Italy: Between Economic Acceptance and Political Rejection. Int. Migration & Integration 14, 175–194 (2013).
    2. Bank , World. “France Refugee Statistics 1990-2020.” MacroTrends,
    3. Dickey, Christopher, and Ed Kashi. “Marseille’s Melting Pot.” National Geographic, 14 Sept. 2017,
    4. Gonzalez-Barrera, Ana, and Phillip Connor. “Around the World, More Say Immigrants Are a Strength Than a Burden.” Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, Pew Research Center, 30 Dec. 2019,
    5. “II. The Rift Between Muslims and the West: Causes and Consequences.” Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, Pew Research Center, 30 Dec. 2019,

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