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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Italy

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1.5 1


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and / or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Italy passed its first immigration legislation in 1986 (Law 943/1986), which outlined the guidelines for entry of labour migrants and provided the country’s first regularization of illegal immigrants (Chaloff 2005). In 1990, the government hosted a conference on immigration, which brought together various stakeholders, including anti-racism and civil society organizations. Law 40, a framework law on immigration, which was passed in 1998, set up the country’s three-pillar approach to migration. These pillars, which remained in effect through various governments, include (a) curbing illegal migration, (b) regulating legal migration, and (c) integrating immigrants (Chaloff 2005). Although the three pillars mention integration, this is understood in Italy to refer primarily to economic integration. 
  • In 2002, a new immigration law (Law 189/2002) was adopted to increase border controls, make naturalization more difficult, provide for easier expulsion, and introduce additional restrictions to the immigration regime (Bodo and Bodo 2010). 
  • When a centre-left coalition was elected in 2006, plans were introduced to ease some restrictions and make access to citizenship easier, but when a right-wing coalition government was elected in 2008, these plans were discarded, and measures were once again hardened particularly with respect to illegal migration (Bodo and Bodo 2010). While immigrants are given access to public services, policy reforms in 2009 made it more difficult for even legal migrants to access these (ibid.). 
  • Chaloff (2005, 5) argues that Italy’s “migration policy is based on limiting migration into the country to meet specific labour demands and fill particular positions”; there is also a heavy emphasis on curbing irregular migration. Chaloff (2005) emphasizes that Italy is not a multicultural country and that social integration is deemed to have occurred so long as immigrants have jobs and the same access to public services that native-born Italians enjoy. Where integration initiatives exist, these tend to focus almost exclusively on employment. 
  • Bodo and Bodo (2010, 22) argue that “migrant communities’ fundamental right to culture and freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the constitution, has not yet been recognized and explicitly promoted by the state administration.” 
  • Still, there are some examples of regions and municipalities working to involve minority communities. In Tuscany, several “intercultural centres” have been opened, and legislation has been passed to recognize interculturalism. Some cities have also appointed consultative bodies or special councillors that promote immigrants’ civic integration or ethnic, religious and cultural pluralism. In Rome, for example, four assistant city councillors are chosen by immigrants, and there is a Foreign Citizen’s Council of Representatives (Bodo and Bodo 2010). Still, the focus tends to be on interculturalism or absorbing immigrant and minority communities into existing structures; there is little in the way of actual empowerment (see also Kosic and Triandafyllidou 2005). 
  • With respect to the inclusion of ethnic communities in policy development, Chaloff (2005, 19) notes that “immigrants themselves are virtually excluded.” While various civil society organizations, including employers’ associations, trade unions, and religious groups are included in consultations, Chaloff suggests that the attitude towards immigrants is paternalistic, and they are rarely represented in policy circles.


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   No, very little evidence. Where evidence does exist, the programs tend to focus on "interculturalism" rather than multiculturalism per se.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0.5 0

Evidence:

  • Responsibility for school curriculum is quite decentralized, and there is thus significant variation. Nonetheless, at the national level, there has been little attention given to immigrant students, save for a period in the mid-1990s, when the Ministry of Instruction issued a “series of high-minded and vague documents outlining an official multicultural policy” (Chaloff 2005, 6). These were subsumed under Ministerial Memorandum 73/1994, which was entitled “Intercultural dialogue and democratic coexistence: The planning engagement of the school.” The memo set out several principles, including the notion that “intercultural education should be considered as the pedagogical answer to cultural pluralism …; it must concern all students; it has to do more with the development of relational skills and dialogic identities than with the teaching of specific topics; it implies a less Euro-centric approach to school subjects, as well as the safeguard of minority languages and cultures” (Bodo and Bodo 2010, 62). 
  • Nonetheless, this had little effect, with research suggesting that schools have difficulty integrating respect for diversity into their programming, and the Ministry of Instruction, University and Research’s recent education reforms making “no mention of immigrants” (Chaloff 2005, 7). 
  • Further, Bodo and Bodo (2010) note that while schools are able to set their own curriculum, very few of them have adopted the principles outlined in the 1994 memorandum. Not only that, but since the memorandum was issued, there has been a “legislative gap,” with little policy activity occurring in this area in the ensuing years. 
  • In 2004, the Ministry of Education created a Unit for the Integration of Foreign Students, but there was no mention of multiculturalism, and the government simultaneously cut funding to tutors, cultural and linguistic mediators and “learning facilitators” who were active in schools and classrooms (Bodo and Bodo 2010). 
  • In 2006, the Ministry of Education issued a new Ministerial Memorandum entitled “Guidelines for the first reception and integration of foreign students” as well as a “Policy framework document for the integration of foreign students and intercultural education.” Then, in 2007, it issued additional guidelines, entitled “The Italian way for an intercultural school and the integration of foreign students.” This latter document refers (as the 1994 memorandum did) to intercultural education as the “integrating background” (i.e., a guiding principle or foundation) necessary in an increasingly plural society. Intercultural interaction is emphasized in the guidelines, and schools have begun to offer intercultural education programs; these programs vary widely.


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation / sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Bodo and Bodo (2010, 23) note that while there are some private radio stations that broadcast in a number of languages, “the new minority languages have no access to national TV and radio networks.” They do point out, however, that there are a number of foreign language newspapers, although these cater specifically to immigrant and minority communities, rather than integrating diverse perspectives into mainstream outlets. Further, most of these papers are run by NGOs and volunteers, rather than receiving public funding or state support.

4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Although Italy is officially a secular state, the Catholic church remains influential. There has been much debate over the presence of crucifixes in public institutions, particularly in schools. A court ruled in favour of a Muslim man in 2003 after he protested the presence of a cross in his village’s public school, but the government did not support this decision and relied on a little-used provision (dating back to the Fascist era) to overturn the judge’s decision (Chaloff 2005); the village responded by erecting a three-metre high crucifix. Debates over the headscarf have been less pronounced, although some towns have enacted laws to ban the hijab and burqa (Islamic Human Rights Commission 2004). 
  • In a recent report, Simoni (2008, 5) notes that in decrees adopted to implement European directives on anti-discrimination, Italy allows for the consideration of an employee’s “work suitability.” This, it is argued, provides an overly broad interpretation of the situations in which differences in treatment can be justified, particularly with respect to the armed forces, police, prison and emergency services, such that the state has “too broad discretion to admit exceptions to equal treatment.” The report further notes that within Italian decrees, there is no mention of any requirement to provide reasonable accommodation.

5. Allows dual citizenship

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • Italy has permitted dual citizenship since 1992 (Howard 2005). Citizenship requirements are outlined in the Citizenship Act (Faist and Gerdes 2008). The requirements for citizenship are very restrictive, and the government enjoys a great deal of discretion; nearly 90 percent of applications for naturalization are rejected (Chaloff 2005).


6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • When Italy initially adopted the three-pillar approach in 1998, it included an annual fund of approximately €40 million—the National Fund for Immigration—which was provided to local authorities and NGOs to support the provision of social services and orientation programming for immigrants. The fund was later subsumed under the National Social Policy Fund, and local governments were no longer required to spend the funds on initiatives targeting immigrants. Although some regions continue to support such activities, there is no requirement to do so, and they are not obliged to report to the ministry (Chaloff 2005). Because the National Social Policy Fund is resourced primarily from the European Social Fund, most integration resources are dedicated to the labour market and employment (ibid.). 
  • Bodo and Bodo (2010) note that there are several migrants’ associations across Italy, and these have made growing demands for formal recognition and greater legitimacy. Kosic and Triandafyllidou (2005) note further that immigrants’ civic engagement tends to be fostered in mainstream organizations, such as trade unions, which then leads to the creation and mobilization of an ethno-specific organization or network. This is, again, characterized as a patron-client relationship, with ethnic organizations not having a great deal of autonomy in part because of limited resources, funding, and support. Kosic and Triandafyllidou (2005) note in addition that very few immigrant associations receive public funding; some are in fact self-funded, with members’ contributions supporting their activities.


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • In the late 1990s, the Ministry of Education did issue some guidelines related to the teaching of Italian as a second language, but there were no resources attached, and the focus was on learning the country’s official language, not maintaining or preserving minorities’ languages (Chaloff 2005). 
  • In a recent report on cultural policies in Italy, Bodo and Bodo (2010, 23) note that while the country’s autochthonous linguistic minorities have benefited from specific language policies “none of the main languages spoken by the over four million foreigners presently living in Italy have so far been officially recognised or taught in schools.” They note further that the Chinese community in Rome has worked for many years to establish a Chinese school but without any success, while attempts to have an Arabic school officially recognized in Milan have caused much public debate and resulted, at one point, in the temporary closure of the school. 
  • At the local and regional level, there have been some “sporadic initiatives” to offer language courses in migrants’ mother tongues (Bodo and Bodo 2010, 23), but these efforts do not appear to be institutionalized or steadily resourced.


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Although Italy places a high priority on immigrants’ employment, this is largely seen as the individual’s responsibility and not an area where the state has a responsibility to intervene. Anti-discrimination measures were introduced in the 1998 immigration law, but victims bore the burden of proof, and the provisions were rarely used (Chaloff 2005). 
  • In 2003, to satisfy European anti-discrimination requirements, a National Office for Promoting Equal Treatment and Removal of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination (UNAR) was created; it can investigate cases of alleged discrimination and provides a hotline where callers can receive information (Chaloff 2005). 
  • Apart from these minimal measures, there is no other evidence of employment or labour market policies directed at disadvantaged immigrant groups.

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