My aim in this contribution is to clarify in which way social scientific measurements of immigrant integration operate as a form of 'social imagination', that is, of the routinized and professionalized visualization of social life. Through such measurements, images of 'society' are produced that feed into larger social imaginaries. My discussion takes as an example Dutch discourse and research on integration. Crucial to the constitution of society in the Netherlands and many other Western European countries is what I call a culturist discourse that has many similarities to racism. This discourse demarcates the boundaries of society by rendering objectively observable the non-integrated who are considered to reside 'outside society'. The image of society thereby produced is that of a morally cleansed realm: social problems are relegated to the domain 'outside society', consisting of persons in need of integration.

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Ethnic and Racial Studies
Department of Sociology

Schinkel, W. (2013). The imagination of 'society' in measurements of immigrant integration. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36(7), 1142–1161. doi:10.1080/01419870.2013.783709