SCD projects

Rhetoric of crisis: German municipalities’ response to the refugee influx

Annett Fleischer


Within the framework of the larger project, ‘Diversity of Asylum-seekers’ Needs and Aspirations’, the sub-project ‘Rhetoric of Crisis’ explored how local municipalities have responded to the recent influx of refugees into Germany. Interviews with political and administrative representatives in local municipal institutions showed that the arrival of asylum-seekers was often perceived as an exceptional and unprecedented situation. Interview partners in the city council and the department of social affairs in the city of Göttingen used the rhetoric of crisis to describe these circumstances, but even more importantly, to justify and introduce extraordinary measures and interventions. The ‘necessity to act now’, as the interview partners described it, also served as an explanation for exceptional measures such as the construction of collective housing centres for asylum-seekers on the outskirts of the city, despite an agreement to accommodate asylum-seekers in apartments. By unpacking the rhetoric of crisis, the study contributes to the current debate on the so-called refugee crisis in Germany and to the academic discourse on crisis representation.