Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Regional Panel: Migration and Cohesion

The project studies the relation between migration and cohesion in local societies. It is interested in different forms of migration (international, national and within cities). It is a central project for RISC Halle as it measures and analyses regional differences of the degree of social cohesion. Therefore, it is important for the analysis of regional inequalities, seen as determinants of social cohesion. It will treat differences between East and West Germany as just one part of center-periphery relations between German localities.

Core instrument for the empirical analysis is a quantitative regional panel, which will be developed in close cooperation with 12 municipalities in Germany. It uses large samples to be able to differentiate processes between city districts. The regional panel is a cooperation between RISC Bielefeld, Göttingen and Hannover, whereby Halle coordinates the data collection.

One part of the project will collect expert interviews as local practices of subsidizing cheap lodging are seen by some social scientists as a driver of segregation in German cities.

Thematic Reference to Social Cohesion

Present societies are part of a multi-level system which in its socio-spatial dimension encompasses as well a world society, a nation state and local societies. Local societies are the focus of the project as most interaction within social capital and collective efforts of Intermediary organisations are taking place there. One determinant of these micro dynamics of cooperation is the macrostructural positioning of localities in migration networks.

Therefore, it is worthwhile to study the effects of migration on feelings of relative deprivation, which are potential causes to transform cohesion into destructive forms. It will be checked, whether the rise of feelings of relative deprivation, which can be observed in East Germany (and other post-communist EU-parts), is in part fuelled by positions in migration systems. Migration can weaken social networks by outmigration. Effects on empty housing can be experienced as symbolic violations. And heterogenic immigration can be felt as a loss of control of one's surroundings. A fundamental question for social cohesion is how it is possible to control these feelings of relative deprivation of stayers (e.g. in urban peripheries, satellite cities or rural areas). One object to be analysed in this respect is local housing policy.

The aim of the project is to reconstruct the relation between migration and cohesion with the further purpose to get a grip on effective counterforces to compensate or produce cohesion in migration processes. In the long run, this basic knowledge will help us to develop concepts to cope with problems of cohesion in highly mobile societies.


Principle investigator: Reinhold Sackmann

Project member: Jakob Hartl