Collaborating beyond the boundaries of citizenship: a transcultural perspective on public participation in the development of Swiss immigrant policy.




Fritze, Christine Elena

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This thesis examines Switzerland’s conflict around the integration of non-citizens in the context of the Swiss system of direct democracy. Through a case study on three recent referendum initiatives on immigrant policy, my research sought to answer the question: How does the use of referenda on immigrant policy impact public discourses on the social and political integration of non-citizens in German-speaking Switzerland? In exploring this question, I focused on how public discourses addressed the link between direct democracy, immigrant policy and non-citizen experiences. I analysed political advertisements, newspaper articles, and data collected in an interview with Swiss resident author Dragica Rajčić. My research findings showed that the use of referendum initiatives to make decisions on immigrant policy has had a significant impact on integration discourses. In particular, it has provided the conservative nationalist Swiss People’s Party with the opportunity to move their political agenda to the forefront of public debates. My findings also demonstrated that non-citizen perspectives were marginalized in the public discourses under examination. I therefore concluded that the process of transforming the Swiss conflict around the integration of immigrants will require Swiss governments to re-imagine how the political participation of non-citizens can be institutionalized. Granting non-citizens a more active political role would promote cross-cultural dialogue and understanding, making Switzerland’s direct democracy more democratic.



Collaboration, immigrant policy, Switzerland, conflict studies, direct democracy, transculturalism, transnational literature, Dragica Rajčić, discourse analysis, Swiss People's Party