Immigration, interpersonal trust and national culture

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17 (1):111-128 (2014)
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This article offers a critical analysis of David Miller’s proposal that liberal immigration policies should be conceptualized in terms of a quasi-contract between receiving nations and immigrant groups, designed to ensure both that cultural diversity does not undermine trust among citizens and that immigrants are treated fairly. This proposal fails to address sufficiently two related concerns. Firstly, an open-ended, quasi-contractual requirement for cultural integration leaves immigrant groups exposed to arbitrary critique as insufficiently integrated and unworthy of trust as citizens. Secondly, the focus on national culture instead of citizenship obfuscates the close link between political membership and political trustworthiness. An examination of two models of interpersonal trust, affective and cognitive,shows that there is no room for the mid-way position associated with a quasi-contract. The effect of grounding political trust in a shared national culture instead of democratic institutions is to normalize the domination of immigrants and citizens alike.

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Lubomira Radoilska
University of Kent


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