Civil society organizations and the politics of diversity in German and French cities

Christine Lang

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Migration and socio-cultural diversity are increasingly contested issues across Europe. Actors mobilizing against immigrants and migration-induced diversity are becoming more powerful; at the same time, immigrants and ethnic minorities have become increasingly vocal in questioning exclusionary practices and ideas of belonging. The influx of new migrants contributes to a continuously growing socio-cultural heterogeneity, especially in cities, which demands conceiving belonging and living together in novel ways. Starting from the premise that cities constitute important political arenas where diversity and belonging are negotiated, this project investigates the urban politics of diversity, and particularly the role of civil society organizations advocating for immigration and diversity: How, why, and with what consequences do civil society actors organize around and articulate issues of diversity, participation, and belonging in cities? What shapes this and how does this change? The project aims at examining the conditions and forms of ‘bottom-up politics’, as well as their impact on political and institutional change. Theoretically, the project draws on different sociological theories (neo-institutionalism, organizational theory, field theories). Empirically, it combines a national and local comparison, comparing two cities each in Germany and France (Cologne, Stuttgart, Strasbourg, and Toulouse). While Germany and France have in common never having had an official multicultural policy, they differ in citizenship traditions, histories of immigrant mobilizations, as well as cultures of collective political action and institutionalized opportunities for civil society participation. The empirical research includes qualitative interviews, document analysis, and participant observation. This project is part of the overall “CityDiv” project.


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