Incorporation and the State

In a recent post I talked a bit about my model of incorporation as solidarity. This week I’ve been doing a lot of writing about the model and I’ve also been doing a lot of reading about immigration and multiculturalism in Sweden. The conversations I had in Stockholm last week and my observations during my first 5 weeks in Sweden have got me really puzzling over immigrant incorporation here. I’ve been mulling over all of this and, apparently, at 3:30 a.m. my brain arrived at some tentative conclusions and woke me up so that I could get them down on paper.

To summarize what will likely be a recurring theme in my research-related posts, my model of incorporation as developed in the U.S. context focuses on the establishment of civil solidarity and the notion of an inclusive, heterogeneous society. The processes that maintain order in and produce the appropriate members of that society are consistent with civil boundaries built upon the ideas of inclusivity and diversity. You might say that this model of incorporation is a “Stateless” one in that the role of the State in incorporation is marginal. Sure, the State decides who can come and has some mandates in terms of conduct and accessibility, but ultimately the idea of incorporation is that folks are incorporated, not through the attainment of citizenship or other forms of becoming members of the State, but through their membership in the community/civil sphere.

In Sweden it seems different. The State is much more pervasive in practical terms. And it seems that immigrant incorporation here does not refer to membership in community and civil society (which appear weak relative to the US). Instead, to the extent a non-ethnic-Swede could be incorporated (a problem that needs further discussion) that incorporation seems to occur in relationship to participation in the Welfare State (which, for all you Americans out there, mean to work and access the social benefits that accrue as a result, not to be “on the dole”) and cultural conformity – speaking Swedish, individualism, adopting common habits and practices assumed to be necessary to such social participation.

If the model I developed in the U.S. is a Stateless model, can it be adapted to Sweden or do I need something entirely new? Should I incorporate the State into my original model (for example, as it relates to the meaning of social membership)?

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