Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Pierre Englebert

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The refugee crisis of 2015 sparked a new era of migration politics in Europe, with waves of immigrants altering the expectations for integration and assimilation policies in many states. Social democratic welfare states, that is, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, while far north of many of the arrival destinations of these migrants, were not immune to these changes. However, as social-democratic welfare states, much of their legitimacy rests on their ability to provide for their citizens, which is in turn supported by a pervasive sense of solidarity amongst their communities, so that extensive tax systems can continue to flourish. Migration, however, particularly migration of dependents or individuals who can be seen as a “drain” on the resources of the state, may threaten redistributive efforts. When citizens of the state feel that resources are allocated to people they deem “undeserving”, whether due to their race, citizenship status… etc, or that the welfare state is unnecessarily economically strained, perceptions of governmental institutions may be affected. My thesis seeks to understand the effect of migration, specifically before and after the 2015 refugee crisis, on social democratic welfare states, with specific reference to the rise of xenophobic and nativist ideologies, historical migration policies, and current government performance. Overall, it tests the idea that the movement of “the Other” (migrants) into European welfare states encourages the “Americanization” of European politics, that is, the use of racial divisions to undermine the legitimacy of redistribution practices. My thesis is an analysis of welfare state decay. It grapples with the notion that solidarity is more difficult to establish in heterogeneous societies, and any threat to homogeneity threatens institutional strength and perception.