Accepted Paper:

Contested integration: local policies and responses in small-town Germany  

Author:

Hauke Dorsch (Universitaet Mainz)

Paper short abstract:

Focussing on local policies and responses in the Southern German town of Bayreuth, this paper will discuss the interplay of levels of identity and different perspectives on integration, racism and multi-cultural neighbourhoods.

Paper long abstract:

Integration is the current buzz word in German politics. Recently the federal government announced a 'national integration plan', and the national media present integration as a desirable goal, opposing it to so-called parallel societies regarded as threatening Germany's social cohesion. Following the national lead, the administration of the town of Bayreuth, located in the North-East of the German federal state of Bavaria, started to establish its own integration policies. Activities include the appointment of a Commissioner for Integration and the establishment of steering committees and working groups which are to design an integration concept for the town. Though being sceptical, members of associations supporting migrants participated in these activities from the outset. Many migrants and persons with a migrant background, however, are still somewhat hesitant to support these initiatives, as many regard them as yet another way of forcing them into assimilation. Others appreciate the new interest 'minority' groups receive and expect positive change in the future.

The presentation will introduce the particulars of the history of Bayreuth, its special combination of local and religious identities and how they come into play within the current multicultural situation. Then local political activities with regards to integration, the different concepts of integration, the perceptions of neighbourhood and racism (by 'indigenous' Germans and those with migrant background) will be discussed. Finally I will reflect on my role as a researcher - and supposedly 'specialist' - in this context.

Panel W079
Globalising neighbourhoods or tradition-based parallel societies? Studying migration and cultural diversity in rural areas