Into the Mainstream: Rethinking Public Services for Diverse and Mobile Populations
Amid rapid economic and social diversification of Europe's urban areas, the concept of "mainstreaming" immigrant integration—the idea that integration policy requires a whole-of-government approach and a shift away from group-targeted policies—has swept through policy circles and become embedded in policy parlance at the highest levels. Despite its intuitive appeal, however, few agree on its precise definition.
The ethos of mainstreaming can provide a guiding force for governments seeking to reform public services to meet the needs of diverse populations, but in practice remains problematic due to widespread differences in uses across different countries and contexts. Furthermore, mainstreaming has not been rigorously tested on the ground, and it is not clear whether it is well understood outside integration circles or whether it is helping or hindering policymakers as they design public services to accommodate mobility and diversity.
This report is a synthesis of the five country case studies from the UPSTREAM Project—France, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom—plus research at the European Union level. It examines how the five countries and the European Commission are employing the idea of mainstreaming, and whether it has helped improve how public services address mobility and diversity. It then highlights promising practices in the fields of education and social cohesion policy, and concludes with a discussion of the role of the European Union within this debate, arguing for a more coherent approach to integration that takes account of the continuum of integration needs.
Date published: 2015