Immigration in Italy: Between Economic Acceptance and Political Rejection

  • Maurizio AmbrosiniEmail author


Italy, especially in its richer regions and cities, is experiencing a profound contradiction in its relationship with the immigrant component of its population: it is becoming even more multi-ethnic in terms of the number of residents (5.3 million), participation in the labor market (more than 3 million), transitions to self-employment (213,000 business owners), and immigrant students in schools (about 670,000). In their cultural representations, Italians tend to deny this reality. They do not want multi-ethnic cities. Faced with the widespread use of a workforce of regular and irregular immigrants, in families and enterprises of the urban economy, the prevailing opinion rejects the idea of giving a place to immigration in the nation’s social organization, and this position is strengthened by political forces and media that reflect and exacerbate the reaction. Immigrants seem to be accepted, perhaps, on an individual plane, where they have a name and a definite place in society—helpful, modest, possibly invisible. They are frightening when they become visible communities, when they settle in urban settings, when they look for places and opportunities for socialization. Italian society, as a result of tensions between markets, politics, and culture on the issue of immigration, is facing a dilemma: how to reconcile interests and feelings, head and heart, individuals and communities: how to rebuild sufficient social cohesion in a society that is increasingly differentiated and heterogeneous.


Immigration Italy Labor market Migration policies Integration Xenophobia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Studi sociali e politici, Facoltà di Scienze politicheUniversità di MilanoMilanItaly

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