The Heuristic Potential of Models of Citizenship and Immigrant Integration for International Comparisons


Theoretical background and objectives

This network of 15 young researchers from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Spain, and Norway seeks to assess the heuristic potential of national models of citizenship and immigrant integration for international comparisons. In the past, and particularly in the 1990s, ideal-typical models such as multiculturalism, civic Republicanism or ethnic exclusion have not only become the major point of reference for international comparisons of citizenship regimes but they have also become closely associated with individual countries. As a result of changes in national citizenship regimes that were unexpected from the point of view of these models, for instance in Germany and the Netherlands, these national models have come under criticism for being too static and deterministic. This is why some authors have abandoned the concept of national models or typologies altogether, arguing that reality is too complex to be captured by such models.

Given, however, that typologies belong to the basic heuristic tools of social science, most contributions that are written within the network tackle the question how existing models of national citizenship could be refined to better capture a complex reality. To keep conceptual clarity we distinguish between different empirical fields where models come into play: political and public discourses, policies and institutions, and processes of social integration. Further, we differentiate between the use of models as dependent or as independent variables. The contributions either focus on how to explain cross-national similarities and differences with regard to public debates, policies and institutions or on the question whether the results of immigrant social integration processes can be explained through discourses, policies, and institutions.

Research design, data and methodology

The network has been organised in a series of four workshops. While an examination of the early literature on national models of citizenship stood central in the first workshop, the second workshop focused on the criticism that was voiced against these earlier studies. Based on the theoretical fundament elaborated by the group during the first and second workshops, the workshop participants used the third and fourth workshops to discuss the own empirical work of the network members in the light of the existing theoretical arguments.


The contributions to the workshops show that country-specific differences persist but that these may manifest themselves most clearly in well-delineated policy fields, on a certain administrative level or in particular public and political venues. Yet, the contributions also point out that even if a certain degree of national consistency can be found in discourses, institutions, and policies, clear gaps between policies and the outcome of social integration processes persist. This means that even if a certain model of citizenship can be identified on the national level, there is no guarantee that the expectations about the actual position of immigrants in society that are associated with one or the other model actually come true. On the contrary, several contributions identify no or even adverse policy outcomes.

Main content

Selected Publications

Finotelli, Claudia/Michalowski, Ines (2012): "Introduction. The Heuristic Potential of Models of Citizenship and Immigrant Integration Reviewed". In: Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3, S. 231–240.
Project-related events

Four workshops, with roughly 20 participants each, took place in February 2009, June 2009, November 2009, and May 2010. Several external researchers (among them Christophe Bertossi, Susanne Worbs, Christian Joppke, Marc Howard, Yasemin Soysal, Maarten Vink, Karen Schönwälder, Schirin Amir-Moazami, and Gökçe Yurdakul) have participated in the workshops or acted as discussants.

A series of public talks has been organised at the WZB in the periphery of the workshops:

  • Soysal, Yasemin (University of Essex), 06.11.2009: Citizenship, Work, and Immigration: European Dilemmas (lecture)
  • Howard, Marc (Georgetown University), 01.07.2009: The Politics of Citizenship in Europe (lecture and discussion meeting)
  • Viola, Laura Anne and Thomas Rixen (WZB), 01.07.2009: Institutionalism and the Concept of Path Dependency (lecture and discussion)
  • Michalowski, Ines, with Christian Joppke (The American University of Paris) and Ruud Koopmans, 30.06.2009: Immigrant integration. Is model-thinking convincing in international comparisons? (podium discussion)
  • Joppke, Christian (American University of Paris), 30.06.2009: Citizenship and Immigration (book presentation)