Local Practices of Accommodation and Immigrants’ Civic and Political Participation in Reggio Emilia, Bologna, and Florence

    • IMG_5193
    • Presentation speakers
      • Maria Teresa Cappiali, Department of Political Science, Université de Montréal, Canada


    In the last two decades, under the incentives of the European Union and the Council of Europe, many local authorities across Europe have promoted practices for the accommodation of immigrants and have launched projects to foster immigrants’ civic and political participation in the local communities. In Italy the recent attempt to provide accommodation to immigrant associations in many cities is an example of this ongoing process. Indeed, notwithstanding a non-supportive national context, which among other things do not grant the right to vote to immigrants at the administrative elections, some local authorities have instituted new measures to assist immigrant associations in the process of civic and political participation and in some cases have created some formal inclusive institutions, such as Consultative Bodies, Advisory Councils, and Adjoin Foreigner Councilors. My paper examines how, by challenging the nation-state prerogative over integration, some cities are contributing to increase civic and political participation of immigrants and immigrant associations. Moreover, since often immigrant and immigrant descendants are not passive actors, my research assesses how various forms of mobilizations and the emergence of new immigrant associations are progressively transforming the configurations of power in many cities. The study offers an in-depth study and a comparison of three cities in Northern Italy: Reggio Emilia, Bologna, and Florence. It uncovers variations in the accommodation practices in these cities and shows that, when local stakeholders support practices of inclusion, they encourage significant levels of civic and political participation by immigrants and immigrant associations. The study also shows that, when local authorities manifest an open attitude, immigrants and immigrant associations in turn can have a significant active role, by promoting new and innovative processes of integration. Moreover, the study assesses how many emerging immigrant associations organized mainly by young Italians and second-generation immigrants contribute to reshape local institutional and political configurations of power in a significant way.