Local politicians can play an important role in promoting citizenship, but existing research suggests that helpfulness varies considerably across local councils. We conduct two correspondence studies with local elected officials in Germany to examine what causes politicians to respond to putative immigrants’ email requests for help in the naturalization process. We find no evidence that features that are salient in national debates and public opinion predict responsiveness. Specifically, signals of national identification with Germany play no role. Yet, we document a reversed national penalty: Politicians are fifty percent more likely to assist Turks, a low-status group, than Canadians, a high status-group. When probing what causes higher responsiveness to Turks, we show that electoral incentives are a more plausible explanation than is the desire to address Turks’ integration problems. Our study indicates that research on citizenship and discrimination needs to consider disconnects between public perceptions, national debates, and local political processes.
Rafaela Dancygier is associate professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. She received her Ph.D. in political science (with distinction) from Yale University in 2007. Dancygier specializes in comparative politics, with a focus on the implications of ethnic diversity in advanced democracies. Her work has examined the domestic consequences of international immigration, the political incorporation and electoral representation of immigrant-origin minorities, and the determinants of ethnic conflict. Her first book Immigration and Conflict in Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2010) explains how immigration regimes and local political economies determine whether or not immigration destinations witness conflict between immigrants and natives, between immigrants and the state, or no conflict at all. Her second book, Dilemmas of Inclusion: Muslims in European Politics (Princeton University Press, 2017) examines how minority groups are incorporated into politics and explores the consequences of this inclusion for the nature of party politics and electoral cleavages. Her other work has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, American Political Science Review, Annual Review of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Comparative Politics, World Politics and in edited volumes.
Immigration and Conflict was awarded the Best Book Award by the European Politics and Society Section of the American Political Science Association (APSA), and it was also named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title. Her articles on related topics have been awarded Best Paper Prizes by APSA’s Sections on Comparative Politics; Migration and Citizenship; European Politics and Society; and Representation and Electoral Systems.