Skill Levels as a Political Resource: Political Practices of Recent Migrants in Switzerland

Author(s) : Metka Hercog

Source :


« This chapter seeks to answer the question of how resource differentiation influences the forms and aims of migrant engagement, that is, the political participation of recent migrants in Switzerland. More-fluid patterns of mobility highlight the need to observe different approaches to residents’ civic engagement, which are not restricted to the practices of full citizens. We expand the outlook on what counts as a political activity by including acts such as participating in petitions, demonstrations and consumer boycotts. Although these activities are largely no longer considered unconventional, they are usually not considered in research on migrants’ political involvement. Based on an analysis of varied political activities open to any resident of the state, the paper delivers new insights into migrants’ engagement linked to different resources and forms of capital. Previous works have confirmed the influence education provides on political participation of migrant and ethnic minorities. Our results show that higher level of education increases the chances of acting in non-conventional activities, but does not play a role for acting in the representative political sphere. It is rather the time spent in Switzerland and local language skills which matter most for acting in political organizations. By adding migration-specific factors, this paper makes a further contribution to debates on what counts as a political resource. Experiences of international mobility provide the necessary social esteem for migrants to act in non-regulated activities which allow for individualized and direct forms of expression. New, selective and temporary mobility therefore broaden political action repertoires. »
Keywords: Migrant engagement, Political participation, Switzerland, Recent migrants 



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