Do Naturalised Immigrants Hold a Stronger Shared Sense of Belonging to the UK Than Their Non-Naturalised Counterparts?

Victoria Donnaloja, The LSE

One of the recent most disputed points of public and academic debate concerns the economic, cultural and social integration of settled immigrants. Governments across Europe have recently embraced policies and an overarching narrative of “good citizenship” as grounds for a common identity and, in turn, of social cohesion. This paper asks whether naturalised immigrants have a stronger shared sense of belonging to the UK than their non-naturalised counterparts. The analysis used wave six of the largescale, nationally representative, UK Household Longitudinal Study, employing latent trait modelling. Sense of belonging represents the subjective dimension of social cohesion and was therefore operationalised as a) national identity and b) trust in political representation to reflect its horizontal (intra residents) and vertical (intra resident and government) dimensions. Findings suggest that the acquisition of citizenship is associated with closeness to the host society for all immigrants, but especially for people born in the Middle East. Citizenship does not, however, necessarily correlate with trust and satisfaction with British democracy. Individuals originally from Eastern Europe/ex USSR or South East Asia are the only ones who show increased levels of trust towards public officials when holding citizenship status. Citizenship appears to therefore hold a meaning tied to individuals’ sense of identity: immigrants with citizenship status feel more British. Nonetheless, citizenship is not generally associated with satisfaction with the functioning of British democracy. In an increasingly globalised world with flexible borders, these results prompt reflection on the role of citizenship as grounds for a common identity and social cohesion. These findings provide us with a first insight into the motivations for and meaning of naturalising, which might go beyond the mere practical benefits associated with the legal status.

Presented in Session 1082: International Migration and Migrant Populations