Ethnicity Centre Brown Bag Seminar: Bridging the Policy and Everyday Realms: The Role of Grassroots Volunteers in Facilitating Migrant Integration in Singapore
Studies of nationalism and multiculturalism have seen a turn towards study of mundane expressions and practices (Antonsich, 2016; Bilig, 1995; Semi et al, 2009; Wise & Velayutham, 2009), motivated by criticism that previous approaches that focussed on more macro, state-centric processes ignored the lived realities of individuals. This presentation argues for bringing the two approaches together through adopting a meso-level lens. In particular, it proposes that studying individuals involved in the implementation of policy on the ground can tell us much about the relationship between the everyday and state policy. It does this through a study of grassroots volunteers in Singapore involved in the implementation of state integration policy. These volunteers known as Integration and Naturalisation Champions (INCs) are liminal actors who are simultaneously working with the state while embedded in their local community, interacting on a daily basis with fellow residents and migrants. By employing a street-level bureaucracy framework developed by public policy scholars (Lipsky, 2010), I argue that INCs find themselves having to innovate in their efforts to promote migrant integration, thus ‘making’ integration policy and enacting their own concepts of what it is to belong to a multicultural nation-state.