Immigration, Multiculturalism and the Nation State in Western Europe

  • Jeroen Doomernik


In the years following World War II, the whole of Western Europe gradually became a region of immigration. In the first instance, this concerned people displaced by the war and its aftermath (redrawn borders and policies of what later distastefully became known as ‘eithnic cleansing’). Subsequently, politics induced people to leave what by then had become the Eastern Bloc. Most notably, this led to migration from the German Democratic Republic to the German Federal Republic, and emigration from Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968). The arrival of such newcomers was never seen as immigration as such, but rather as an anomaly, a one-off phenomenon, and caused little discomfort in the countries where these people sought refuge. Moreover, these immigrants were easily absorbed in expanding labour markets. In fact, rebuilding destroyed economies induced an even greater need for labour. In the 1960s and 1970s this led to the arrival of what were euphemistically called guestworkers from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. As the word guestworker implies, this immigration was conceived to be of a temporary nature — which it turned out not to be.


Labour Market Migrant Worker Immigration Policy Integration Policy German Government 
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© UNRISD 2005

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  • Jeroen Doomernik

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