Education, governance and frames of political membership: migrant `integration` policy as discourse in the Swiss case within Europe
Shaik, Farah Jeelani
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This study looks at Switzerland as an example of Western-European nation states` strategic efforts to create migrant `integration` agendas, which attempt the convergence of different, largely statist economic interests. According to the Swiss Federal Government`s overarching agenda, education is a key arena for advancement of the `integration` of migrants in Swiss systems and society. I explore whether this statist strategy conceals and contains pre-existing power relations in relation to definitions of the ‘political membership’ of migrants. This study understands public policy as a carrier of shared ideas and ideologies transgressing national borders. It attempts to map the socio-political dimensions of policy discourses. ‘Dominant` discourses of neo-liberalism and New Public Management in education policy reform in Switzerland in 2008 are examined. The examination connects arguments related to `soft` governance in processes of Europeanisation and the emergence of a European shared space of education - in which Switzerland positions itself in particular ways - as policy through governance. It explores how this policy is referenced in a national normative context. I investigate the use of education standards drawn from comparative studies, such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and how these are related to the migrant `integration` mandate of the Swiss Federal government and the Canton of Zurich education authorities specifically for education agenda-setting. The study engages with the `problematisation` of migrants in Swiss education discourses, (re-) triggering a national response which constructs, diffuses and institutionalises shared ideas of European policies within the logic of pre-existing normative ideologies about `migrants`, nation-building, `national identity`, `culture` and norms of political membership. I examine discourses in policy texts, media texts and policy actors` narratives, in order to map the framing of a structural migrant `integration` policy reform and a loose policy `network` of `integration`. Moreover, I approach this discursive evidence in its relation to the historical and economic developments of migration within Europe in the last few decades; an account of Switzerland`s developing relationship to the EU; the integration and citizenship conceptions issuing from these developments and `political membership` as understood in this study. Methodologically, I use eclectically a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) approach to researching Europe through the social bases, which are to be found in the national sociopolitical policy contexts: in other words the `translation` of deterritorialised politics into national policy `solutions`. These deterritorialised policies frame and address socialdemocratic ideas such as `equality of opportunity`/`equity`/`inclusion` through standards introduced in education in what is termed an `integration` framework. Integration however is directly related to issues of `political membership`. This study deals with how the use of social-democratic education standards as ‘flags of convenience’ may serve the liberal state in maintaining power relations. Lastly, it highlights the potentially cosmetic instrumentalisation and misapplication of education and its role in perpetuating pre-existing normative exclusionary principles of political membership.