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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2000, Vol. 3 No. 1 .

Migration and Social Cohesion
Steven Vertovec (ed.)

Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar
576pp. Index. Hb.: £125.00; ISBN 1-8589-8868-3

This book is part of a series of (quite costly) volumes on different dimensions of migration. Each volume contains twenty something previously published articles selected and introduced by leading scholars in the field of migration studies. Under the heading of 'social cohesion' this volume deals with the topical issue of the relationships between migrants and their countries of settlement. One of the threats to social cohesion of the nation-state - indeed, for extreme right-wing parties and nationalists, the threat - is migration. What exactly is meant by social cohesion in today's complex and diverse societies is, however, rarely formulated in a precise way in contemporary popular discourse and political rhetoric. As Steven Vertovec points out in his introduction to this volume, the concept of social cohesion is mainly invoked by its absence. In order to rectify this definitional vagueness, the introduction to this volume presents relevant discussions of a variety of concepts and understandings of issues relating to the notion of social cohesion. These discussions span from classical sociological concepts of Gemseinschaft/Gesellschaft, to political concepts of civil society, citizenship, minority rights, multiculturalism, and conflict resolution. The 26 articles in this volume are organised under 4 main headings. The first part, titled 'Frameworks', deals with more general ideas of integration of immigrants. The second part on 'Institutions' focuses on the interaction between immigrants and political institutions in their host-countries. The third part has 'Citizenship' as its main theme, and the final part, titled 'Dynamics' includes various articles on less classifiable issues such as 'symbolic ethnicity', 'language maintenance', and 'ethnic enterprise'. Since migration studies come late to social science, most of the articles have been published within the last two decades. The regional focus is mainly Western Europe and the U.S. It has been noted that academic literature on immigration and integration issues tend to emphasise classification over dynamics, and taxonomy over the development of an integrated paradigm. With its very comprehensive introduction and representative selection of articles, this volume will serve as a well-guided tour through the wilderness of concept and theories on immigrant incorporation.

Dr. Eva Østergaard-Nielsen, London School of Economics

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