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Various theoretical perspectives make strong, but often contradictory, claims about effects of immigrant integration policies on immigrants' retention of their ethnic cultures and their adoption of the host country's culture. However, there is very little empirical research investigating these competing claims. This article addresses this gap by investigating the merits of four prominent theoretical perspectives, which emphasise respectively the material costs and benefits of retention and adoption, acculturative stress, the permeability of ethnic boundaries, and reactive ethnicity. It uses original survey data on Turkish immigrants in Germany, France, and the Netherlands, countries with different integration regimes, and investigates identification, language proficiency and use, religious observance and interethnic social contacts. The results indicate that policies have only a modest effect on immigrants’ degree of adoption and retention. The findings clearly contradict the reactive ethnicity and acculturative stress hypotheses, and provide support for a combination of the material cost/benefit and boundary permeability perspectives.

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Journal article


West European Politics

Publication Date



34 (2)


208 - 234