Essay about Civic Democracy

Essay about Civic Democracy

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By threatening to change the composition of the receiving nation in a more profound manner, large-scale immigration inevitably raises the question of collective self-identification: “Who are we?” and “What defines us?” Even within stable liberal democracies, it is difficult to obtain a consistent answer to these questions, although the responses likely influence who is allowed to enter a nation and how they are perceived. Kohn (1944), Smith (1981, 1983, 1990), Castles and Miller (1993), and Shulman (2002) have developed a perspective that defines societies, including their anticipated forms of national identity, in terms of similar historical backgrounds. Reflecting the content of these shared characteristics, three basic forms of national identity have been acknowledged: civic, ethnic, and cultural. In theory, nations that formed from shared political, economic, or otherwise civic roots tend to be the most accepting of foreigners. If non-native newcomers adopt the civic goals of the society (e.g. democracy or capitalism), then they can become legitimate members of their community. In those societies where ethnic ancestry or race create national boundaries, newcomers who fit within the proscribed definitions will be favored and “aliens” will remain excluded or internally segregated (Castles & Miller 1993). Kohn (1944) and Smith (1986) suggest that is most difficult for outsiders to become integrated into ethnically defined communities, since the prerequisites for membership are typically inherited or obtained at birth. Finally, if a national language, religion, or shared cultural traditions are significant to the national identity, the newcomers may be asked to adopt the new customs and attitudes in order to qualify for fu...


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...their own class may not align with more objective measures. In the third class-based perspective, I include a measure of subjective social class, or individuals’ perceptions of their own position within their respective nation’s socioeconomic hierarchy. Similar to Weber’s concept of life-chances, individuals who perceive themselves as lower class—even if more objective measures seem to contradict this conception—may feel more threatened by immigrants, who might be perceived as competing with them for similar jobs and other resources. Thus, these three models encompass a primarily objective concept of class (Marx), an entirely subjective measures of class (self-reported social class), and a set of class-based concepts that are both subjective and objective (Weber). Each set of social class measures may exert various influences on attitudes toward immigrants.


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