There are many debates about people with a “migration background”. However, instead of talking about them, as it is so often the case, we used a multilingual, representative survey to poll people with and without migration stories in our research project “Who can participate?”. The focus was on questions of how people with migration stories experience political and civic participation themselves and what role the factor “migration background” plays in this regard.
As a result, it emerges on the one hand that the statistical migration background as a stand-alone category does not enable a differentiated view on political participation. But this fine-grained view is necessary for such studies. Therefore, the category must be analyzed together with the self-identification with the migration background and the actual experiences of racism. On the other hand, our differentiated analysis reveals that people with migration stories experience structural barriers to political participation more often. Most people with statistical migration background, are equally engaged in society as the average, but they participate less in elections. People with statistical migration background are also more willing than the average to get involved, especially if they have had experiences of racism themselves. We also found out that some have stopped their involvement due to such experiences of racism in participation.
Removing structural barriers to participation of people with migration stories is therefore crucial to providing much greater support for the existing potential for participation. Moreover, it is crucial to take into account the extremely diverse experiences within the group of people with migration stories. Whether someone self-identifies in this way plays just as important a role as whether people have experienced racial discrimination. Since people with migration stories want to participate more, it is up to political parties and institutions to mobilize these motivated individuals and encourage their involvement.