Gunnar Myrberg 2011
2011. 37:99–115. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
Theories of participation have been developed and tested almost exclusively on majority populations. While the relative underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in the political process is regularly asserted, their participatory behaviour is therefore generally less well understood. Using recently gathered data based on a sample of residents in the region of Greater Stockholm, Sweden, this article considers two primary questions: whether associational affiliation increases individuals’ likelihood of political participation and whether these effects are the same for immigrants and native Swedes. It is shown that associational affiliation lowers the thresholds of political participation for immigrants by offering a training ground for civic skills and, albeit of lesser importance, an arena for political recruitment. In contrast, the positive correlation between affiliation and political participation among native Swedes rather seems to stem from processes of self-selection. While associational affiliation thus seems to be an important means for the political integration of immigrants, the political importance of associational affiliation for the majority population may well be called in question.