Call for Papers: Self-Interest and the Common Good in a World Defined by Migration and Minorities, SSA Conference, Zürich, 21–23 June

Call for papers for our workshop at the Swiss Sociological Association Conference in Zürich, 21–23 June 2017.

Please submit your 200 word abstracts by 19 February 2017 online. Working language of the workshop is English.

Societal and demographic changes have made apparent that our world is increasingly defined by migration calling into questions categories such as majority and minority and their relationships. One of the key challenge posed by migration is the tension between self-interest and the common good. Migrants are seen as threats to the social state, social cohesion, and public good, but also as a necessary labour force for the economy. This tension is paramount in the case of migrants who may not contribute directly to the economy. How can self-interest and social interests be reconciled in this case, and what are the implications for social cohesion?

With a focus on the challenges posed by migration on self-interest and the common good, we seek to address the following questions: What shape does diversity take and how is the diversification of society experienced in the everyday? What new conflicts arise because of diversity, and what kind of solutions can be developed? How can we define the nationhood, identity, belonging, and participation in nation-states in a context of increasing diversity? How can we form a political community, which reflects different views and belongings? What societal, political, economic and urban changes should be implemented to respond to the challenges raised by migration?

The research network migration—minorities seeks to organize panels that showcase current research on the topic. We welcome both theoretically and empirically informed papers on (but not limited to):

  • tensions between justice, human rights and citizenship rights
  • reactions and attitudes to refugees and foreigners (including categorization)
  • forms of integration, embeddedness and belonging
  • challenges and impact of migration on the economy and social policy
  • challenges and impact of migration on social cohesion and urban organization
  • the role of self-interest and social norms in minority relations

mmSSA Research Network Migration–Minorities

Immigrant Diversity and Social Cohesion

Immigration to Western European countries is nothing new. Arguably, the diversity of immigrants has increased in recent years. Inevitably, this leads to a more divers population in most European countries, and this diversity is viewed by some with scepticism. The fear is that increased (ethnic) diversity due to immigration threatens social cohesion. However, despite similar demographic developments across Western European countries, reactions to increased diversity have been quite different across countries. The reason for this can be found in historical legacies and the development of the welfare state — an institution that is inclusive by design.

The concept of social cohesion is broad, to say the least. A simple definition can be derived from shared values and feelings of togetherness in society. Depending on the political colour, either aspect tends to be highlighted. A minimalistic definition thus insists on individuals feeling part of society, and trusting each other — other groups and individuals accepted as full members of society.

In the context of immigration, five indicators can be considered: generalized trust, naturalization rates, confidence in key institutions, early leavers, and voter turnout.