Postmigrant design potential in transformative life events

Consensus and Conflict Department

Project head: Dr. Ruta Yemane

Running time January 2023 until December 2023
Status Current project

In the research project, "critical junctures" will be examined as a central movens of post-migrant change. The term critical junctures is a concept from historical institutionalism that describes how "the old, stable institutional and power-political equilibrium is broken and opportunities for profound reforms open up" (Merkel 2010:2). However, this concept can also be transferred to the individual level. Critical junctures can be understood as turning points or junctures at which individuals or actors use a personal or social momentum to initiate changes or reforms that influence both their own lives and social structures. These changes have the potential to break historically grown path dependencies by triggering a rethinking in people's minds. In the process, existing norms, habits and rules are questioned and new, alternative patterns of action, positions and constructions of identity and belonging are developed, which will be referred to in the following as "post-migrant agency".

In this project, the first work package will explore which external social or personal life events migrant persons in Germany understand as central critical turning points or junctures in their lives. The focus is on people with origins from Eastern European countries, people with origins from predominantly Muslim countries and Black people. The aim is to gain insights into the subjective perception and significance of critical turning points or junctures in the life course of migrant persons in Germany, as well as to examine their role in the development of post-migrant agency. By selecting the three groups, we will also investigate whether individuals name different events as critical turning points or junctures depending on whether they belong to a visible or invisible group (visible versus non-visible minorities) and also develop different forms of post-migrant agency. In a second work package, a special focus will be on the intergenerational conflicts and strategies of action of these three groups. With regard to different generations, critical junctures can also be understood as moments of setting the course, in which old path dependencies and behaviour patterns of the parents' or grandparents' generation (e.g. assimilation or passing) are questioned or broken through and new paths are taken (e.g. Black Joy, resistance, making oneself visible by turning away from Germanised names or wearing the Afro). In a third work package, the findings from the two previous work packages will be used to develop items and scales for a quantitative survey planned in a follow-up project.

Whereas there is a broad field of research on life and integration trajectories in general, there is a lack of comparative research on the post-migrant agency of migrant groups and their creative potential for action, which goes beyond the mere reaction to discriminatory structures, hierarchies and institutionalised inequalities. This research project will therefore contribute to broadening the often deficit-oriented perspective on integration processes by a perspective on the individual agency possibilities on the part of different migrant groups from an intergenerational perspective.

Funding: Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Institutional funding)