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Why do some cities adopt more diversity policies than others? A study in France and Germany

Abstract

An increasing sociocultural heterogeneity of populations and vocal demands for the recognition of diversity have become common features of, in particular, cities in Western Europe. Do cities reshape policies in response to such developments? And to what extent do they implement policies that accommodate difference? We use data from an original survey of urban policy actors in the twenty largest cities of France and Germany to identify city-level diversity policy instruments. In both countries, such instruments are widespread, contradicting assumptions of dominant assimilationist paradigms. And yet, the degree of adoption across cities varies. Drawing on institutionalist theory, we investigate what might explain differing adoption rates. The main finding is that key determinants at the urban level differ between the two countries. In France, the political constellation is crucial; higher numbers of diversity policies are associated with centre-left dominance. In contrast, in German cities, political consensus around diversity policies seems to prevail and higher adoption rates are associated with higher population diversity. Our findings provide a first wide-ranging account of the adoption of diversity policy instruments in European cities. They demonstrate that such policies exist at a relevant scale. They further help explain why the adoption of diversity policy instruments is uneven.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For a study of cities using a similar framework, see Clingermayer and Feiock (1990) on the determinants of urban economic development policies.

  2. 2.

    The concept of opportunity structures captures external context emphasizing enabling conditions rather than pressures (see, e.g. Meyer and Minkoff 2004). Obviously both pressures and opportunities, sometimes in the sense of absent adverse pressures, are important.

  3. 3.

    Le Label Diversité dans la fonction publique, French cities can be awarded a “label diversité” in the name of the state to honour their engagement for the development of diversity and against discrimination (Bereni and Epstein 2015). See also Bender et al. (2014, p. 93).

  4. 4.

    For more details, see the technical report for the survey (Moutselos et al. 2017). We excluded Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg because they are regional states and thus equipped with other powers and political structures than local authorities. We excluded Paris on similar grounds—it is the sole municipality in France that is simultaneously a Département. Anonymized data will be made publicly available at the GESIS Data Archive for the Social Sciences (http://www.gesis.org/en/services/data-analysis/data-archive-service/).

  5. 5.

    We follow a terminology suggested by Scharpf (1997, ch. 3). The term covers corporate (korporative) actors that have some degree of formal organisation and collective actors, that is, looser umbrella structures or social movements.

  6. 6.

    Some organisations may have local offices but mainly formulate claims at the national level. We excluded those.

  7. 7.

    Studies of 'multiculturalism policies' are partly related, but have a more limited scope. Banting, Kymlicka and co-authors, for instance, focus on 'policies of public recognition, support, and accommodation' but only relating to ethno-cultural groups (Banting et al. 2006: 52) or more specifically immigrant minorities, historic national minorities and indigenous peoples. Their index includes 'policies that seek to recognize and accommodate ethnic diversity as a fact of society' (56).

  8. 8.

    We offered respondents the opportunity to add further policies. Not many used it. They mentioned, for instance, naturalization ceremonies (that may be part of a more assimilationist policy) or the existence of immigrant representation bodies.

  9. 9.

    Immigrants from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Sub-Saharan Africa often state that they learnt French as children and already knew it well before coming to France, see https://www.ined.fr/fichier/s_rubrique/19558/dt168_teo.fr.pdf (pp. 31–33).

  10. 10.

    http://www.nantes.fr/lutte-discriminations and http://www.ira-nantes.gouv.fr/index.php?id=455&type=123.

  11. 11.

    http://www.montpellier.fr/4243-journee-de-lutte-contre-l-homophobie-et-la-transphobie.htm.

  12. 12.

    Wir ALLE sind Dortmund: Kampagne wirbt für weltoffenes Dortmund, 24 April 2015 http://www.dortmund.de/de/leben_in_dortmund/nachrichtenportal/alle_nachrichten/nachricht.jsp?nid=354332.

  13. 13.

    Electoral data were drawn from: www.data.gouv.fr (France) and the official publications of the German Länder. Mayor partisanship was determined by whether a mayoral list/candidate had been endorsed by a political party of a certain partisan orientation or mayors’ personal affiliation. For determining the electoral percentage of left-wing and centre-left parties, we looked at the combined electoral performance of SPD, Die Grünen, and Die Linke (Germany) and of the Parti Socialiste, Parti Communiste, Front de Gauche and Les Verts/Europe Écologie Les Verts (France) in the previous two municipal elections (second-round results for France). For the percentages of the French extreme-right, we averaged the Front National percentages of the last two municipal elections using the highest scores of either round.

  14. 14.

    We use the share of councillors of immigrant origin as calculated in Schönwälder et al. (2011) and Keslassy (2009).

  15. 15.

    We ran the models substituting median per capita income at the city level for unemployment rate, and the results were unaffected.

  16. 16.

    Similarly, when we included an interaction term (percentage of foreign-born x left-wing power) in the OLS regression for France, the estimated coefficient for the interaction term was small and did not reach statistical significance.

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Martínez-Ariño, J., Moutselos, M., Schönwälder, K. et al. Why do some cities adopt more diversity policies than others? A study in France and Germany. Comp Eur Polit 17, 651–672 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41295-018-0119-0

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Keywords

  • Diversity
  • Policy instruments
  • Cities
  • Germany
  • France