Immigrants’ Feelings of Attachment to Switzerland: Does the Cantonal Context Matter?

This contribution investigates how cantonal norms of inclusion or exclusion, as expressed by cantonal integration policies and attitudes towards immigrants (xenophobia and right-wing voting), affect immigrants’ national identity in terms of their feelings of attachment to Switzerland. This chapter complements the emerging body of research emphasizing the relevance of studies “beyond and below” national policy frameworks by studying how cantonal integration policy affects immigrants’ national identity, which is a vital – but thus far understudied – factor contributing to social cohesion. The analyses are based on different data sources: the Migration-Mobility Survey, a dataset on cantonal integration policies, and cantonal statistics, e.g., on direct democratic vote results on immigration-related topics or right-wing voting rates. The results of our multilevel analyses show that cantonal reception contexts matter, however not directly but rather as catalysts. In line with assimilation theory, non-citizens’ feelings of attachment to Switzerland increase with time spent in Switzerland. Inclusive cantonal reception contexts and liberal cantonal integration policies in particular amplify this positive effect of years of residence on immigrants’ national identification, except in the most restrictive cantonal reception contexts.