Migrants and their descendants - Guide to policies for the well-being of all in pluralist societies

Date published




Migration to and within Europe has profoundly changed the life and image of the continent. This guide offers theoretical and practical tools for an innovative approach to a key political issue: how, along with our immigrant fellow-citizens, can we build a fair and plural society that ensures the well-being or all?

By moving beyond rigid categories like "foreigner", "immigrant" and "illegal , and ambiguous concepts like "identity", "diversity , "immigration control and "integration", this guide suggests that policy makers, civil servants and citizens need to question their own vocabulary if they are to grasp the complexity and uniqueness or people's migration paths.

Perceiving migrants simply from the host country's point or view - the security, well-being and life-style of its nationals - has limitations. We cannot see people of foreign origin only as a threat or a resource to be exploited. If we see them as stereotypes, we are seeing only a mirror of European fears and contradictory aspirations. This guide helps readers decode and address the structural problems of our society, looking at the accusations made against migrants and the utilitarian view or the advantages that immigrants bring to host societies.

In publishing this guide, the Council of Europe is seeking to initiate an in-depth debate on the migration issue, which is so high on the European political agenda.

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Part 1 - Rethinking policies towards migrants and their descendants

Chapter 1 — Clarifying the debate and the concepts used
1.1. Introduction to the discourse on and concepts used in relation to migration and migrants
1.2. Mobility and migration
1.3.  Foreigners, immigrants, descendants
1.4. Identities, diversity, cultures

Chapter 2 — Understanding the thinning behind policies and their effects
2.1.  Introduction to policies on migrants and their descendants
2-2.  Controls
2.3. Integration
2.4. Well-being of all

Chapter 3 — Redrawing the map of stakeholders and shared responsibilities
3.1. Introduction to stakeholders' responsibilities in migration processes
3.2. Denationalisation of state powers
3.3. Redistribution of state powers
3.4. Delegation of state powers

Part 2 - Analysing and transforming harmful stereotypes about migrants and their descendants

Chapter 1 — Stereotypes, prejudices and immigration policies: an approach for a social interaction strategy
1.1.  Stereotypes and prejudices as cognitive mechanisms based on simplification and generalisation
1.2. Harmful stereotypes as a means of social exclusion
1.3. "Foreigners" as the ready-made targets of harmful stereotypes
1.4. Migrants as a threat  
1.5. Migrants as a resource
1.6. An approach for analysing and transforming harmful stereotypes

Chapter 2 — Harmful stereotypes portraying migrants and their descendants  as a treat to our security
2.1. "Migrants cause an increase in crime"
2-2. "Migrants bring diseases into me country"

Chapter 3 — Harmful stereotypes portraying migrants and their descendants as a treat to our well-being
Introduction 1
3.1. "Migrant workers take our jobs"
3.2. "Migrant workers drive down our wages"
3.3. "Migrants and their descendants are less educated man us"
3.4. "Migrants abuse me welfare state"
3.5. "Migrants abuse me asylum system"

Chapter 4 — Harmful stereotypes portraying migrants and their descendants as a treat to our way of life
4.1. "Migrants act as if the place were theirs"
4.2. "Migrants build parallel societies"
4.3. "Migrants' children bring standards down in our schools"
4.4. Migrant women live as a minority

Chapter 5 — Stereotypes portraying migrants and their descendants as resources for our competitiveness
5.1.  "Migrants do the jobs which local workers no longer want to do"
5.2. "Migrants will pay our old age pensions"


Document type

Number of pages

294 pages

Publisher / Organisation

Council of Europe