Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Gunther Hega

Second Advisor

Dr. Sybil D. Rhodes

Third Advisor

Dr. Steven Benfell

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Immigration policy has been a crucial issue facing all Western European countries for decades; however, it has recently become an even greater concern. Much of the literature argues that shifts in immigration policy correspond with shifts in economic conditions or the power of far-right parties. Others argue that immigration policy is primarily a cultural issue, although very little research has been done to address the role of specific cultural factors in different countries.

This paper looks at the evolution of immigration policy in France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, and addresses the question of why immigration policies in each country target different groups. I argue that, while economics and politics are important, immigration policy is influenced primarily by a sense of national identity, to the point where even economic factors are viewed through the lens of national identity. By examining key immigration legislation, economic data, public opinion regarding immigration, historical circumstances, and immigration trends, this paper will show that deep-seated cultural norms and institutions have a greater impact on immigration policy than economic factors in the United Kingdom, France and Germany.