chapter  5
25 Pages

Pathways of integration in Italy

Indian immigrants in Emilia Romagna 1
WithMeenakshi Thapan

There is often the view that multiculturalism has failed or that there is no real effort for the integration of immigrants in Italy and indeed in Europe. Although such a view offers a critique of government initiatives, legal outcomes and political will, instead I point in this chapter to the diverse ways in which citizens and immigrants in northern Italy are engaged in the processes of integration across cultures, faiths and linguistic barriers. The emphasis is on ‘cosmopolitan sociability’ and its construction through ‘networks of interconnection and locally based activities’ (Glick Schiller, Darieva and Gruner-Domic 2011: 400). The idea of ‘sociability practices’ moves beyond multiculturalism and mere tolerance of difference to an understanding of ‘when and where people use their diverse cultural or religious backgrounds to build relationships and identities of openness’ (Ibid.: 410). In particular I examine relations between employers and employees as indicative of efforts at integration on the ground and seek to understand linkages between local citizens, the immigrant population and religious institutions. Finally, I argue that the impetus for change is only possible through local participants. National and local policies are formal aspects of forms of interaction that must exist on the ground.