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

Christine Lang

Migration and socio-cultural diversity are increasingly contested issues across Europe. Actors mobilizing against immigrants and diversity are becoming more powerful; at the same time immigrants and ethnic minorities have become more vocal in questioning exclusionary practices and ideas of belonging. Further, the influx of new migrants contributes to a continuously growing socio-cultural heterogeneity, especially in cities, which demands conceiving belonging and living together in new ways. Starting from the premise that cities are important political arenas where diversity and belonging are negotiated, this project investigates the urban politics of diversity and particularly the role of civil society organisations advocating for immigration and diversity: How, why, and with what consequences do civil society actors organise around and advocate for issues of diversity, participation and belonging in cities? How and why 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, organisational theory, field theories). Empirically, it combines a national and local comparison, comparing two cities in each Germany and France (Cologne, Stuttgart, Strasbourg, Toulouse). While Germany and France have in common to have never 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. The planned output are three to four journal articles.


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