My project aims to study the topic of the political integration of migrants, and is focussed on the Italian collectivity in London and Peterborough. My research problem tackles the concepts of ethnic community, social capital, political opportunity struct ure and transnationalism and analyses their effect on the political interest and participation of Italians in London and Peterborough.
The aim of my study will be to try to answer the following questions:
1) Is it possible to talk of an Italian 'communi ty' in the UK or is it better to use just the word 'collectivity'?
2) Does a shared Italian identity still exist among Italians in the UK and how does it affect their social life?
3) How much do ethnicity and ethnic social capital count in explaining th e political behaviour of Italians in the UK?
4) How does the local opportunity structure influence the political participation of Italians in the UK?
5) How are the interest in homeland politics and the participation in UK politics linked?
In order to re ach these goals, I am going to use a mixed methods approach: in the first stage of my research, I will conduct open interviews with 'highly active immigrants' and representatives of Italian institutions and organizations, that will provide me with an insi ght into the social and community life of the Italian collectivity. The second phase is a survey study based on a structured questionnaire, that will help me to understand which factors influence the political integration of migrants. Finally, during the last phase of my research, I will conduct open interviews with a small group of people from the previous sample: these interviews, together with participant observation, will provide me with an insight into the experience and determinants of Italian migra tion to the UK.
The data will be analysed using both qualitative and quantitative methods and linking them to the theories of political participation, social capital and political participation of migrants.