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How Do Migrants Participate Politically within Restrictive Contexts?: Citizenship, belonging, and participation in Italy

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How do people with different migrant backgrounds interpret and enact political participation in restrictive institutional contexts? To address this question, this policy brief looks to Italy, where the acquisition of citizenship is a highly demanding process. Further, the right to vote in any election is restricted to Italian citizens. This brief explores how citizenship (or lack thereof), belonging, and political participation interact, revealing how migrants actively participate in the community.
It finds that migrants both adapt to and rework institutional structures in order to enact political and social change.

Brief Points

  • Citizenship status determines an individual’s access to formal politics.

  • In restrictive contexts, migrants nevertheless find ways to engage in political participation. This is often driven by a sense of duty to multiple communities.

  • Participation is enacted in formal and informal contexts, inside and beyond the nation-state boundaries.

  • Personal and contextual factors can determine both migrants’ sense of belonging and their political participation.

  • Sense of belonging and political participation influence each other, but not in a causal or unidirectional manner.