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Cover for Becoming a Citizen

Becoming a Citizen

Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada

Irene Bloemraad


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How can societies that welcome immigrants from around the world create civic cohesion and political community out of ethnic and racial diversity? This thought-provoking book is the first to provide a comparative perspective on how the United States and Canada encourage foreigners to become citizens. Based on vivid in-depth interviews with Portuguese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees in Boston and Toronto and on statistical analysis and documentary data, Becoming a Citizen shows that greater state support for settlement and an official government policy of multiculturalism in Canada increase citizenship acquisition and political participation among the foreign born. The United States, long a successful example of immigrant integration, today has greater problems incorporating newcomers into the polity. While many previous accounts suggest that differences in naturalization and political involvement stem from differences in immigrants’ political skills and interests, Irene Bloemraad argues that foreigners' political incorporation is not just a question of the type of people countries receive, but also fundamentally of the reception given to them. She discusses the implications of her findings for other countries, including Australia and immigrant nations in Europe.

Praise For Becoming a Citizen: Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada

“Deftly executed work of sociological detection on an important and timely subject.”
— Sociological Forum

“This excellent book should become an important reference for debates on immigration and multiculturalism. Its claims are subtle and well argued, its empirical evidence is carefully evaluated, and its multiple comparisons are well deployed in a multilayered way.”
— Gianpaolo Baiocchi

University of California Press, 9780520248991, 382pp.

Publication Date: October 3, 2006

About the Author

Irene Bloemraad is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.