Models of cultural interaction


Which way to integration...through which political means


Towards a better model for Italy

An American writer Thomas Sewell in his book "Immigration and culture" wrote; "the history of immigration is not only the history of emigrate persons but it is also the history of the territories in which they live in and of the impact they have on those territories".

The increase of migratory flows from different countries comprised of different ethnic groups and cultures has created a new social-cultural reality that has put Italy in crisis (a crisis is static moment interrupting motion). These crises have caused an emergence of conflict between various groups of elements portrayed in the reality and demonstrate the necessity of change at the same time. Moreover this conflict has brought to existence new and pressing needs leading to a re-examination of social politics, social service systems and the entire legal process regarding the organization of immigrant admission and their acceptance in the country.

There is therefore a need to find new models that correspond to the new needs, concepts and contexts. But it is important that this change happens also at the behavioral level to be able to deal with the cultural-linguistic and religious diversities. This situation has not been resolved with the Bossi-Fini law, instead, this law has complicated a reality already complex, in as much as the law is concentrated on security considered to be the starting point in dealing with the topic of immigration, apart from being a mistake, this is also dangerous.

For example an encounter between an Italian social-sanitary service worker and a foreign patient is intercultural; it is a special cross-cultural step of experience for the foreign patient in a new and a completely alienating society.

In the same way the encounter can be a provocative and a difficult experience for the different social-sanitary service workers who must be sensitive to personality and identity differences and peculiarities of the foreign patient. They must be careful to note that which represents a manifestation of any sign of discomfort related to diversity with an aim of understanding them.

Regarding the discourse of elements, we can say the phenomenon of immigration has become a reality creating new aspects that can be summarised into two groups of elements:

1) Operative elements containing fundamental thematic on diversity and trans-cultural elements such as: culture, identity, conflict, prejudice, acquaintance with other cultures, etc.

2) The contextual elements regarding the insertion of foreigners in the society to make them an active part and favoring also, in so doing, the receiving country's development.

These elements have reference, or so it should be, to the normative regulating foreigner's entry, stay, acceptance, health services, education and justice; and all these elements must converge into an integration programme fitting to the Italian reality to arrive at a definition of a clear model regarding immigration.

But what model could be useful and fitting to the Italian context

Models of migratory policies recognised worldwide

According to various world-level scholars, there are four types of migratory politics, defined as:

1. Equal opportunity - Monoculturalism:

A model of integration guaranteeing equal opportunity to all in the public sphere, agreeing to renounce one's own culture and assimilate to the host country's culture. It is a model whereby the dominant culture presents itself like ethnocentric and universal at the same time, whereby monoculture refers to equal rights through assimilation or universality. This model is particularly adopted in France.

2. Equal Opportunity - Multiculturalism:

A model in which is a condition of equal rights is possible in the public sphere without the need of cultural assimilation. in the private sphere. It is a relativist and universalistic model where equality and equal opportunity are compatible with the different cultures represented, as in Great Britain.

3. Unequal rights - Multiculturalism:

A model in which the dominant culture (hegemony) is not only ethnocentric but above all segregationist. The equality of opportunities is reserved for those pertaining to the hegemonic culture, while other members of the society can maintain and develop their own culture provided they remain in area reserved for them. This model was, until a few years ago preferred in Germany and has within it the same political implications as the apartheid system in South Africa.

Unequal rights - Monoculturalism

A model that does not grant equal opportunity. Refers to a model of assimilation to the hegemonic culture, seen as both ethnocentric and differentiated at the same time (racist integration). This model fits the American contest.


Which political model for Italy


Returning to Italy where the reality of constant increase of migratory flows is apparent, one wonders: What model is to be followed But before this question, one should ask: is there a clear and stable migratory politics in Italy

An Italian researcher affirmed years ago that Italian politics for immigration has the following aspects

  1. Uncertain, because the regulation is local, inorganic and often inapplicable since it leaves excessive discretion to the Public Administration.
  2. Short lived, since it appears to be a regulation created only for emergency situations, realised in haste and does not respect the various phases of immigration.
  3. Generally less conformed to constitutional regulations and to the international regulations.
  4. Therefore it is less suitable to govern with equilibrium the phenomenon of immigration.

We have witnessed various forms of treatment regarding migratory flows in Italy recognisable in the various regional models:

  • Guardsman ship politics, that which puts in evidence the theme of security, it is noticeable particularly in Genoa and Turin.
  • Welfare politics, that which gives a particular attention to support and assistance for foreigners residing or in transit on the territory. It is mainly found at the Centre-North, particularly in Rome and in Lazio region.
  • Promotional politics, demonstrates a thought of integration but otherwise limited to a limited reality. It intersects itself with the welfare politics of Rome and of Lazio and is notable also in some regions of South Italy.

Lack of a clear-cut politics is seemingly evident, substituted by heterogeneity of over alluded politics.

All immigration laws since 1984 to date have been endorsed to resolve the questions addressed in different periods and were however linked to the winning political affiliations in different elections. The statutory Act 40 of 1998 approved establishment of a base, though incomplete, for a clear politics, for a future of an integration not well defined.

We have to start from schools, temporal residence centers, public services, to create a climate free from bias and stereotypes with precise procedures depicting policies interpreted from a fear-free law; that does not have security and acquisition of votes in elections.
A climate based on Italy's national interests that favors a healthy cohabitation founded on respects of other's diversity.

In this direction, we will be motivated to work more, with more willingness, hope and a spirit of humanity.

Febbraio 2003