This is the introduction to a special issue of Comparative Migration Studies that hosts a conversation between leading scholars from various disciplines and perspectives on the relation between immigration, welfare state, cultural diversity and nationhood. The focal point of the discussion is a lead article by the political philosopher Will Kymlicka, which refers to a ‘progressive’s dilemma’ (see also Banting 2010) between support for social solidarity and cultural diversity.
In the current European context this dilemma seems to be dramatically amplified by pitting advocates of welfare state closure against those of solidarity with refugees. It is a progressive’s dilemma, since it is most pronounced within the broadly liberal left side of the political spectrum that is committed to egalitarian ideas about social justice as well as a relatively open attitude towards migration and migrant integration. Is there a trade-off between social solidarity among current citizens and solidarity with newcomers who are worse off?
In the issue, various scholars reflect on Kymlicka’s contribution in various commentaries. This includes responses from the perspective of comparative study of democracy (Hanspeter Kriesi), sociology of migration (Godfried Engbersen, Adrian Favell), political theory (Rainer Bauböck), political sociology (Irene Bloemraad), multiculturalism (Nasar Meer) and cultural anthropology (Nina Glick Schiller). Finally, the special issue also includes a rejoinder to the responses by Will Kymlicka.