Does it take one or two to tango? : language skills, physical appearance, and immigrant integration in Germany
Author(s)Wickboldt, Anne-Katrin, 1970-
Does it take 1 or 2 to tango? : language skills, physical appearance, and immigrant integration in Germany
Language skills, physical appearance, and immigrant integration in Germany
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
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Breaking with a long-held political stance that Germany is, despite a sizeable share of permanent immigrant residents, not a country of immigration, the German legislature has drawn up a new immigration law, which entered into force in January 2005. It states a new commitment to integrate legal immigrants into German society by teaching them German and acquainting them with the legal, cultural, and historical precepts of the German state and society. To gauge the role of the host society in the integration process, I use a three-pronged methodological approach to evaluate the influence of physical appearance and several other potentially salient attributes of immigrants on integration outcomes. Statistical analysis of recent census data provides a general picture of economic integration outcomes of foreign national residents in Germany. More specific information gathered by way of a structured survey among second generation immigrants in Germany allows me to investigate deeper levels of integration using variables geared more narrowly to my research question. Finally, qualitative interviews provide valuable insights into whether and to what extent immigrants themselves perceive language skills and physical appearance, as well as other issues, as shaping their integration experience. Overall, my analysis suggests that language proficiency is a strong predictor of economic integration. The impact of physical appearance, by comparison, is negligible. The survey suggests that despite high levels of cultural, social, and identificational integration, immigrants still feel disadvantage as a function of their cultural difference from the host society. They also universally report having and cherish ties to both German and their society of origin. In-depth interviews suggest that second generation immigrants, although aware of a certain degree of discrimination, do not see it as a major issue. Still, lasting emotional attachment to Germany could be boosted by policies that show genuine acceptance of immigrants' perceived or real ties to two cultures and communities, and recognize the assets they entail.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2008.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Page 239 is a foldout table. Includes survey in German.Includes bibliographical references (p. 263-287).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology