In the era of globalization, it is difficult to find societies with the monolithic population, who would not be influenced by cultures of neighboring nations. Moreover, the digitalization has had an increased effect on the communications and cooperation; it has led to the mixture of beliefs and behavioral patterns of different cultures. This phenomenon is known as multiculturalism, and the majority of Western societies are characterized by multicultural community relationships. Immigrants, who come to such countries, often represent minorities, who choose one of the paths in order to become similar to the population of the host states. These processes are known as the integration and assimilation. These notions are often confused or considered identical; nevertheless, there are some significant differences between them.
The integration process is characterized by a two-stream interaction between the culture of the majority and minority. Both cultures influence each other to some extent. This process implies the acceptance of laws and behavioral patterns of the host culture by minorities without sacrificing own beliefs and rules. The integration is known to take place in societies, in which there are no hostile attitudes between integrating cultures. Therefore, individuals that represent different ethnic or cultural groups accept each other’s viewpoints for the purpose of the peaceful coexistence. However, the integration process is marked by a larger acceptance on the part of minorities, which later become a part of the multicultural society.
The assimilation is another process that is observed during the interaction of various cultures. Immigrants that join a new society are known to be absorbed by the majority of the host culture. The assimilation is a one-way process, which supposes that minorities learn customs and traditions of the host country; they are required to give up some of their traditions, as well. Thus, the immigrants’ identity is altered in one or another way. The assimilation is considered a negative phenomenon due to the necessity of minorities or immigrants to give up some of their inherent values.
In order to illustrate these concepts in a modern context, the paper studies the integration and assimilation of Turkish immigrants in Germany, as well as how the government addresses issues that are associated with the integration of the minority. In addition, the Polish diaspora in the UK is discussed with the view to exemplifying a different integration or assimilation process. Finally, the conclusion compares and contrasts these two cases.
Turkish Immigrants in Germany
It is a well-known fact that one out of three babies born in Germany is from an immigrant family. At the same time, today, it becomes obvious that many of these families are not completely integrated or assimilated into the German society. Recent studies indicate that Turkish families do not succeed in integrating into the national culture. Therefore, these immigrants are believed to be isolated from the mainstream multicultural society and tend to have poor prospects of obtaining a quality education and decent jobs.
Foreigners, who came to Germany from Poland, Baltic countries, Russia, and Turkey, in particular, have problems adapting to or assimilating into the German society. It is true even for people, who possess the German nationality. In addition, studies show that after fifty years of residing in the country, immigrant families have not integrated yet. In other words, immigrants do not assimilate even if having lived in Germany for generations. This trend proves to be disturbing. It is clear that the country needs immigrants as Germans have a low birth rate; however, those who do not integrate into the society may become a burden rather than a promise. It is so due to the fact that unintegrated minorities tend to be uneducated so unemployed. Unemployed people rely on government subsidies; in this way, they are costly to the society. The Bertelsmann Foundation evaluated the cost of failed immigrants to the society, which was $20 billion (Bagdoshvili).
Germany has relied on the Turkish labor for decades since the country has had to meet both domestic and global economic demands. The fact that the Turkish community is the least integrated into the German society is the consequence of government’s failure to integrate its members. Therefore, the unsustainable welfare pressure on the country’s economy may be observed today. In addition, alarming xenophobic attitudes are widely spread because of unfavorable working conditions for the Turkish immigrants. Some steps have been recently undertaken in order to address the problem. First of all, the National Action Plan is being revised. Besides, many governmental and non-governmental structures are involved in the process of investigating how the Turkish labor forces are integrated into the local market. Finally, anti-discrimination strategies are being developed, as well (Bagdoshvili).
After the World War II, Germany signed an agreement with Turkey and started to rely heavily on the Turkish labor. However, the German government did not plan that the immigrants would move to Germany for a permanent residency. Therefore, officials did not develop a plan for the integration. This failure has resulted in the current situation when three generations of Turks are unintegrated. Most workers recruited in that period were either unskilled or semiskilled. The German government was encouraging them to leave after their employment period. Meanwhile, the Turkish side preferred them to stay in Germany in order to reduce the unemployment in the native country and ensure a constant influx of money, which was sent to the Turkish family members.
Today, in the turbulent economic environment of the increased global competition, Germany needs both a stable inflow of the workforce in the form of the immigration and integration of such minorities. Unlike German families, Turks tend to have more children and a larger proportion of the younger population, which evens out the country’s economy.
Solutions to the Current Problems
In order to address the mentioned issues associated with the integration of the Turkish diaspora, some legal regulations were enforced. The governance was centralized due to the fact that the problems are of the nationwide character. The first step towards meeting the needs of the German economy was issuing the Immigration Act of 2005 (Bagdoshvili). This legal document sets the integration as a primary objective and intends to tackle problems associated with the integration of the Turkish diaspora by means of increasing the cooperation at all government levels.
The National Action Plan for Integration was developed with the help of the Turkish NGOs. In such a manner, more than ten forums were organized with the aim of addressing such topics as educational services, entry into the labor market, and pursuing the immigrants’ career. Such an approach allows tackling the problems at different levels, including the state, federal, and municipal ones.
Another method that is employed by the government for increasing the integration of the Turkish population in Germany is the promotion and support of self-employment opportunities (Bagdoshvili). First of all, the self-employment is meant to reduce unemployment rates. It provides income not only to those, who establish a business, but also to prospective employees. Since Germany has a well-developed economy, it has been attracting a great number of businesspeople from Turkey. On the other hand, becoming a self-employed person in this country is associated with a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork. Besides, Turks have to apply for the self-employed residence permit and get the approval. This process is complicated, and many people are discouraged from going through it.
Finally, Germany has taken steps in order to prevent Turkish immigrants from suffering any discrimination as this issue is one of the biggest hindrances on the way to the successful engagement of Turks in the German labor market. Despite the fact that Germany has signed a number of treaties and other international legislative documents, the country plans to issue local anti-discrimination acts. In addition, the Turkish NGOs and labor unions are encouraged to contribute to the creation of the favorable environment. It is obvious that the integration of the Turkish population into the German society is a complex process and requires an integrated and centralized approach, involving both governmental and non-governmental structures.
Reasons for the Poor Integration
A number of factors influence the level of the integration of immigrants into the foreign society. Some of them are related to the frugality of the host country. Nevertheless, the integration level depends on the desire of individual communities, as well. Both the majority and minority have to be willing to coexist together. Another important aspect is the religion, which plays a crucial role in the Turkish-German interactions.