Immigrant Organizations as Civil Society: A Three-Dimensional Analysis

(in Spanish)


This article examines immigrant organizations from three perspectives: their relationships with public authorities, the system of relationships established among these organizations, and their degree of internal participation. My principal aim is to analyze the extent to which one can speak of a civil society in this domain. The study presented takes the case of immigrant organizations in Spain, focusing on those organizations that benefit from greater public recognition through the Forum for the Social Integration of Immigrants, a consultative body of the Government. In-depth interviews with chairpersons and workers in these organizations are combined with contributions from the literature on social movements, on ethnic mobilization and on social capital, to explain the Spanish situation. Connecting the dynamics of immigrant organizations with those of other social organizations in Spain, it is argued that the relationships established with public authorities are neither balanced out by a dense interorganizational network, nor harmonized by the active participation of their members. These factors work to the detriment of a true civil society in this domain, having negative implications for the organizations’ capacity to act as creators of social capital, and for the integration of immigrants. This brings into question the role of the State in supporting immigrant organizations

Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas 132:105-130

Presented at the Trinity Immigration Initiative International Conference (Trinity College Dublin, 2010)

Guillermo Toral
Guillermo Toral
Assistant Professor of Political Science