Civic participation is of major importance for the democratic development of Europe. As European societies are highly affected by immigration, it is interesting to examine why immigrants are usually less active than natives. We explain our concentration on first generation immigrants and at the same time raise awareness of the different meanings and research implications of terms such as ‘immigrant’, ‘migrant’ and ‘foreigner’ both in statistics and in the public discourse of European societies. Active civic participation is defined as continuously investing time and energy to organise solidarity or give a voice to societal concerns in the receiving society. Although this definition is relatively broad and comprises both political and civil society activities, it does not include low-key types of participation such as voting or visiting events. Building predominantly on American literature on individual determinants of civic participation and on European literature to examine the influence of the societal opportunity structure on the participation of immigrants, we conceptualise our own model for researching the topic. We identify the activation process as the main research gap.
More information: POLITIS Working Paper 1/2005