Winning Proposal to the Pierce Scholar's Fund: 2005 Competition

Project Title: The Boundaries of National Community: Immigration, National Identity, and Public Opinion

Faculty Sponsor and PI: Cara Wong

Ph.D. Student: Laura Potter

Project Description

Do current theories of American immigrant assimilation and incorporation work in other countries? What are factors that affect political identification, a sense of community in a nation, and inter-group conflict? To address these questions, scholars need to know about both the receiving nation (e.g., its citizenship laws, political institutions, and public opinion) as well as migrant group members (e.g., their identities, political attitudes, and history of immigration). This project is a comparative exploration of attitudes about national identity and politics among citizens and non-citizens - both native and foreign born - in advanced industrial countries. Using pilot survey data of Muslims in Spain, Britain, and Germany (gathered for a joint project with Ken Kollman, Mark Tessler, James Jackson, and three European collaborators), we will examine how national, ethnic, and religious identities affect political and social attitudes. For example, to which country's politics do immigrants and subsequent generations pay attention? Who and what political institutions are such individuals willing to trust? Which immigrants are most likely to feel pride in their new country? Answering these questions is complicated by each nation's differing laws about citizenship.

We also plan to use other comparative datasets, such as the World Values Survey, ESS, or Euro-barometer, to measure public opinion about immigration in the receiving countries. We would like to gauge if there is a relationship between attitudes about national identity and belonging of both native- and foreign-born people, Muslims and non-Muslims. For example, do stronger nativist or ethno-cultural views of national identity among native-born citizens lead to weaker identification with the receiving country among foreign born people?

The student working on this project, Laura Potter, will be enriched by the project because it will allow her to collaborate on a project that involves substantive comparative work. It will also deepen her understanding of national identity in industrialized democracies, which she plans to explore as a potential dissertation topic. She hopes to extend this project by comparing the results with data from Japan, which is her area of expertise.

Her preliminary research has shown that Japanese political elites have used Germany's ethno- cultural definition of citizenship as a model, and therefore they have been following changes in Germany's naturalization laws very closely. Examining the cases of Moroccan, Bangladeshi, and Turkish immigrants will help Laura develop a set of hypotheses about how Korean and Brazilian immigrants in Japan may acculturate and adapt.