How can societies that welcome immigrants from around the world create civic cohesion and political community out of ethnic and racial diversity? This thought-provoking book is the first to provide a comparative perspective on how the United States and Canada encourage foreigners to become citizens. Based on vivid in-depth interviews with Portuguese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees in Boston and Toronto and on statistical analysis and documentary data, Becoming a Citizen shows that greater state support for settlement and an official government policy of multiculturalism in Canada increase citizenship acquisition and political participation among the foreign born. The United States, long a successful example of immigrant integration, today has greater problems incorporating newcomers into the polity. While many previous accounts suggest that differences in naturalization and political involvement stem from differences in immigrants’ political skills and interests, Irene Bloemraad argues that foreigners' political incorporation is not just a question of the type of people countries receive, but also fundamentally of the reception given to them. She discusses the implications of her findings for other countries, including Australia and immigrant nations in Europe.
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: The Challenge of Immigrant Political Incorporation
1. Diverging Trajectories of Political Incorporation
2. The Social Nature of Citizenship and Participation
3. Structured Mobilization: The Role of Government
4. The Meaning of Citizenship
5. Community Organizations and Political Mobilization
6. Learning to Lead and Winning Political Office
Conclusion: Multicultural Citizenship
Irene Bloemraad is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.
"Becoming a Citizen is a terrific book. Important, innovative, well argued, theoretically significant, and empirically grounded. It will be the definitive work in the field for years to come."—Frank D. Bean, Co-Director, Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy
"This book is in three ways innovative. First, it avoids the domestic navel-gazing of U.S .immigration studies, through an obvious yet ingenious comparison with Canada. Second, it shows that official multiculturalism and common citizenship may very well go together, revealing Canada, and not the United States, as leader in successful immigrant integration. Thirdly, the book provides a compelling picture of how the state matters in making immigrants citizens. An outstanding contribution to the migration and citizenship literature!"—Christian Joppke, American University of Paris