Migrant representation within british and dutch political systems
Embargo Lift Date: 2017-08-31
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This research aimed to analyze how often, in what ways and under which conditions MPs of migrant origin addressed the cultural and religious rights and freedoms of ethnic and religious groups. A content analysis was conducted on parliamentary questions to achieve this aim. The cases of the Netherlands and the UK are analyzed within a time period between 2002 and 2012. The research follows the ‘political opportunity structures’ approach in analyzing available opportunities and constraints of political and institutional environments in the above-mentioned two cases. Taking recent trends in the neo-institutionalist understanding into consideration, the study also incorporates the idea of ‘discursive opportunities’ into the general frame of political opportunity structures. The holistic approach incorporates political parties as a dimension of institutional approaches and makes space for individual and group related factors such as gender identity and ethnic backgrounds of minority representatives. The content analysis combines qualitative and quantitative techniques to provide an in-depth understanding of the subject area on the one hand, and formulate generalizable patterns on the other. Comparing the British and the Dutch cases reveals to what extent, if any, the opportunity structures differ across Britain and the Netherlands; the latter showing a clear shift towards a more integrative approach, whereas Britain would still seem to be attached to multiculturalism even debating it loudly in recent years. Findings of the qualitative content analysis reveal suppressive framings as well as messages supporting cultural and religious rights. The quantitative content analysis challenges the profound role attributed to the citizenship regime and media discourse. Political party membership appears to be the most significant factor in explaining a variance in framing cultural and religious rights and freedoms in the parliament. The roles of ethnic background and gender identity are also significant. However, their impacts differ across the two cases.