About the project

There are many debates about peo­ple with a so-called “migra­tion back­ground” in Ger­many. Most of these dis­cus­sions, how­ev­er, fall short in two cru­cial ways: 1) they often assume that hav­ing a migra­tion biog­ra­phy means some­thing coher­ent and that it could be used as one homo­ge­neous cat­e­go­ry to char­ac­ter­ize a group in the pop­u­la­tion, while we know that it is very diverse; and 2) they often pre­sume that for peo­ple with a migra­tion back­ground, this is the deci­sive fac­tor in explain­ing their moti­va­tion to engage with the polit­i­cal sys­tem – ignor­ing that oth­er inter­sect­ing aspects such as gen­der,  eco­nom­ic sta­tus, or expe­ri­ences of racism might be as impor­tant.  


This project aims to break up such sim­pli­fied assump­tions. Rather than assum­ing that peo­ple with a migra­tion biog­ra­phy must hold cer­tain val­ues or views of the polit­i­cal sys­tem, we inves­ti­gate empir­i­cal­ly what real­ly shapes polit­i­cal atti­tudes and behav­ior, engag­ing with a much wider set of dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics. We explore how dif­fer­ent groups of peo­ple usu­al­ly talked about by oth­ers actu­al­ly engage polit­i­cal­ly and expe­ri­ence bar­ri­ers to their par­tic­i­pa­tion. We aim to show­case the diver­si­ty of views and forms of polit­i­cal engage­ment present with­in var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties. 


For this, we con­duct­ed a rep­re­sen­ta­tive mulitlin­gual sur­vey in Ger­many that includ­ed large enough sam­ples of peo­ple with dif­fer­ent migra­tion biogra­phies to prop­er­ly reflect their views and com­pare them to the views of the pop­u­la­tion over­all. We asked ques­tions about polit­i­cal atti­tudes and behav­ior on the one hand and expe­ri­ences and fac­tors that affect par­tic­i­pa­tion on the oth­er hand. The results enabled us to con­struct new approach­es to dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion and chal­lenge exist­ing frame­works in rela­tion to what groups can be found to share which bar­ri­ers to polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion with­in and beyond struc­tures of rep­re­sen­ta­tive par­ty politics. 


This project is fund­ed by the Open Soci­ety Foun­da­tions and we will pub­lished first results in June 2021.