This panel explores how the relationship between thin and thick notions of social incorporation shapes--and is shaped by--the experiences of migrants with the policies, laws, institutions, and customs of contemporary European welfare states.
The 2004 and 2007 eastern enlargements of the European Union, as well as the 2015-2016 refugee crisis, have catalyzed and intensified flows of labor migrants and asylum-seekers to western and northern European welfare states. For these countries, a growing presence of migrants poses challenges of social incorporation. There are many "thin" notions of incorporation: learning a cultural script; acquiring legal, economic, and cultural rights to membership, extending the traditional understanding of citizenship to social categories (e.g., post-national, post-cultural); or the cultivation of common values or virtues such as "mutual respect." A thicker notion would mean not simply becoming a subject who possesses rights or values like those of longer-term residents but also creating a sense of "mutual belonging" oriented toward new, shared categories of identification. This panel explores how the relationship between these two notions of incorporation shapes--and is shaped by--the experiences of migrants with the policies, laws, institutions, and customs of contemporary European welfare states. How is the extension or restriction of social citizenship framed by local metaphors of incorporation--(for example, ingestion, indigestion, disgust, fusion, combination, affiliation, appropriation, encompassment)? How do different modes of (re)distribution inflect processes and possibilities of belonging? With respect to incorporation, what do extant concepts--such as plurality, multiculturalism, civic integration, assimilation, integration, or alternately, fragmentation and disintegration--contribute to framing and understanding emergent forms of sociality? This panel engages these questions and develops "social incorporation" as a conceptual tool for understanding the variable tension between thin and thick notions of incorporation in contemporary Europe.