30 Jahre Deutsche Einheit Mehr erfahren

1.4.2008 | Von:
Andreas Damelang
Max Steinhardt


In the period between 1987 and 2001, Germany took in more immigrants in absolute terms than the classic immigration countries of Australia and Canada put together (cf. Bade 2001).
Szene bei der Eröffnung der größten Moschee Deutschlands in Duisburg im Oktober 2008.  (© AP)

However, for political reasons the integration of immigrants in Germany was no straight-forward matter. Not until the year 1991 was a paradigm shift registered, when the CDU, which together with the FDP made up the German Federal Government, deleted the wording "Deutschland ist kein Einwanderungsland" (Germany is not a country of immigration) from the Dresden manifesto (cf. Bade 2001). Even so, it took a further 14 years before, in 2005, the Aliens Act was superseded by the Residence Act (better known as the "Immigration Law") and for the first time, the aim of promoting integration was anchored in and regulated by law. Since 2007 there has been a comprehensive battery of measures at the federal level aimed at integrating immigrants and their descendants: the "National Integration Plan", issued by the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration (Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Migration, Flüchtlinge und Integration 2007).

Since just under one fifth of the foreign population in Germany lives in one of the country's six biggest cities, and since there is tremendous leeway at city level in terms of implementing the regulations contained in the National Integration Plan, the present policy brief examines and describes the various concepts and measures for integrating foreign citizens in Germany's six biggest cities: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

Some cities and local authorities recognised the need to integrate foreign citizens early on and so developed their own plans for integration to suit their region's particular requirements. Stuttgart has assumed a pioneering role in this regard, having produced and implemented its own overall concept for the integration and participation of immigrants and their children as early as 2001.

But why are regionally adjusted integration concepts necessary? What role is played by the demographic and economic situation of the various regions? And to what extent has there already been successful integration in the labour market? It is not possible at this stage to evaluate the measures for urban integration since they have only recently been adopted. Rather, it is the aim of this dossier to underline the need for plans for urban integration by examining the situation in each region, and to explore the opportunities, and also the difficulties, presented by scientifically-based evaluation. The policy brief also presents some examples of measures for promoting integration. First, however, it is necessary to explain what exactly is meant by integration.

How do we define integration?

When speaking of integration, it is important to bear in mind that there are numerous different concepts of integration. In general, however, we tend to differentiate between system integration and social integration. Whereas the former denotes the cohesion of a system (e.g. of a society) as a whole, social integration indicates the inclusion of individual actors in a system. Typically we mean social integration when speaking of the integration of migrants. In this context we distinguish between a further four dimensions (cf. Esser 2000):
  • Culturation (also: socialisation) as a process of transmitting knowledge. It is necessary for successfully interacting in society, e.g. the acquisition of a language and cultural standards.
  • Placement refers to the acquisition of positions in a society, e.g. in the educational or economic system, but also as a citizen. The process of placement is associated with the acquisition of rights and with it the opportunity to gain socially relevant capital [1].

  • Interaction denotes the formation of interethnic networks and relations. This includes friendships, marriage relations, membership in associations or involvement in social groups generally, and with that the opportunity to gain social and cultural capital.
  • Identification indicates the individual´s identification with a given society. The person considers him/herself part of a whole. Identification occurs on both a cognitive and emotional level.
The different dimensions of integration are not, of course, independent of one another. Placement, for example, assumes a certain degree of culturation (especially language acquisition). And, building on this, firstly interaction and then identification with a society become possible. If a person is fully integrated in all four dimensions we speak of assimilation, whereby the individual´s cultural autonomy and, therefore, cultural diversity may also be lost. If, however, we regard immigration as an opportunity to accept different cultures on equal terms and to interact (multiculturalism) [2], then cultural autonomy must be retained. The cultural and social integration relations of people to their practices, symbols and objects do not supplant or mutually exclude one another, but rather amplify the possibilities for people to live together (cf. Pries 2005).

We can therefore define social integration as the inclusion and acceptance of migrants in institutions, networks and positions in a society. The process of integration should be understood as an interactive dialectic social process between immigrants and the receiving society that spans generations. A pool of shared values and standards (e.g. the rule of law) is stressed as the basis for a multicultural coexistence.

Language acquisition (culturation) is regarded as the key to social integration in the receiving country and, building on that, the structural assimilation of national groups within the education system and labour market (placement). Placement in society is so central because it facilitates participation in social events. For, in addition to the opportunity to acquire economic capital and achieve recognition, successful placement gives the position-holder the feeling of being needed and part of society.


In general, a distinction is made between economic, cultural and social capital (cf. Bourdieu 1983). The term "capitals" additionally implies the possibility of using such capital to bring about profit. Additionally, Borjas (1992) introduces ethnic capital since, according to him, opportunities for integration also depend on the quality of the ethnic environment.
A critical discourse on multiculturalism which takes the Netherlands as an example can be found in policy brief No. 1 (cf. Michalowski 2005).



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