Americans tend to think only of other new countries (Canada, Australia, Argentina) as fellow-immigrant societies; but in important ways, the French experience has more relevance. Not only is the general circumstance similar (today, some 7 percent of the American population is foreign-born, 8 percent in France), but mass immigration to the two countries began about the same time (the mid-nineteenth century) and has drawn on roughly the same sources (Europe in the past, non-Western countries today).
Working over a three-year period, a U.S. team from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a French one from the École Normale Supérieure compared their countries' immigrant careers in some detail; the results are fascinating. Unfortunately, as in most multiauthor books of a comparative nature, most contributors to Immigrants in Two Democracies did not bother to learn about the other country: only Horowitz' pathbreaking introduction and an article comparing immigration policy (by Sophie Body-Gendrot and Martin A. Schain) actually engage the dual experiences. For the rest-conceptualization, demographics, education, religion, spatial patterns, work, legal aspects, discrimination-the authors stolidly present their information, often talented summaries of prior work, but not new thinking inspired by this creative project. Even in translation, some of the French pieces (for example, Michel Oriol's chapter on religion) have an elliptical quality likely to baffle most American readers.
Hoskin more briefly compares four countries, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Germany, looking in particular at the reasons for public hostility to immigrants. Is it fear of unemployment, of foreign language and culture, of crime, of political differences? What factors most influences a person's attitudes-educational level, income, age, ideology, or first-hand experience with immigrants? Armed with survey research and statistics, Hoskin concludes that values count most, followed by education and age. Occupation and party preference matter less. She also reaches the surprising but pleasant conclusion that contact with immigrants improves a native's attitudes towards them. Writing from a pro-immigration point of view, she calls on political parties to get the word out on the facts about immigration.