Accepted Paper:

Creating Social Capital: The Case of the Irish Community in Munich  


Christian Ritter (Tallinn University)

Paper short abstract:

My paper explores the building of social capital amongst Irish migrants in Munich, Germany. Drawing on life history data, I trace the evolution of this local community since the 1970s and examine the role of social bonding and bridging in the creation of a Diaspora community.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will discuss the formation process of the Irish community in Munich, Germany. The ethnographic study seeks to trace the evolution of this community between 1972 and 2012. Drawing on life history data, I delve into the strategies Irish migrants have chosen to cope with the predicament of emigration. The life story interviews were periodically complemented by participant observation. The story of the Munich Irish depicts how Irish migrants established a Diaspora community in the Bavarian capital. Building social capital appears to be the major strategy of Irish immigrants in Munich to overcome marginalization. Social capital is most commonly conceptualised as the aggregate of resources possessed through personal networks. During ethnographic fieldwork, I explored local churches, migrant associations, Irish sport, literature and folk clubs with regard to inward and outward looking networks. According to the evidence studied, Irish migrants combine cosmopolitan bridging across diverse communities and social bonding with other Irish migrants. In this way, they create liminal spaces within which Irish culture and religiosity is conserved and gain access to local resources. Apart from local networks, Irish migrants have also created transnational linkages to further sites of the Irish Diaspora which have currently been reshaped by the use of digital communication methods. The case of Munich's Irish community provides an example of how Diaspora communities are formed and how diversity and difference are negotiated in the global age.

Panel MMM31
The causes and diversity of migration processes (IUAES Commission on Migration and Diaspora)