The long path to becoming part of society

Six Max Planck Institutes explore social and legal exclusion as a result of migration

August 04, 2017

Social scientists have long been interested in the subject of social integration and inclusion. However, there has been much less attention given to the ways that legal provisions, social behaviours, and economic conditions can lead to exclusion. A joint project of six Max Planck Institutes is now taking up this research question. 'The Challenges of Migration, Integration and Exclusion' is led by Prof. Dr Marie-Claire Foblets, director at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle (Saale), and Prof. Dr Ayelet Shachar, director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen. The project is scheduled to run for three years and is part of the Max Planck Society’s "Wissenschaftsinitiative Migration (WiMi)" (Scientific initiative on migration). A total of 15 scholars will be involved.

"Wherever people live together, there always will be those who are excluded or remain marginalized", Dr Zeynep Yanasmayan, coordinator of the project 'The Challenges of Migration, Integration and Exclusion' at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle (Saale), says. "Exclusion appears in manifold forms which are subject to permanent change. They are continuously reproduced, transformed, tightened, or loosened through laws, social norms, traditions, and behaviour patterns."

Exclusion and inclusion are continuous processes
The WIMI project aims to increase our understanding of the mechanisms and dynamics which exclude some people from certain spheres of social life. Key to this project is the recognition that exclusion and inclusion do not describe mutually exclusive states. Yanasmayan: "People are never completely excluded or completely included. Migrants are typically integrated in certain areas of life while remaining outsiders in others. For instance some may have a job, but little access to ways to participate in social life. Therefore we understand exclusion as an on-going process which can develop in various directions."

Using empirical research to better understand exclusion
To better understand these various forms and gradations of exclusion, the Max Planck researchers will take a broad view, for example, examining migrants' life paths as a whole. For while permission to cross the border into a state is a very important step toward integration, it is by no means the last one. "We also will explore how people react to the governmental and social norms they are confronted with, what kind of adaptive strategies they develop, and what kind of social recognition they seek and receive", Yanasmayan says. In addition to new empirical findings, the collaborative nature of this project will enable a new dialogue to emerge between disciplines that so far have explored individual aspects of exclusion – legal, social, and socio-psychological – in isolation. Yanasmayan: "The project aims to achieve a comprehensive understanding of exclusion on the basis of topical empirical research in and outside of Europe, with a primary focus on Germany. Through the close cooperation of the six Max Planck Institutes we have generated excellent research conditions for accomplishing this."

Further information

Max Planck Institutes involved in the WiMi project:
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (Saale)
Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen
Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg
Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock
Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin
Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich

PR contact
Stefan Schwendtner
Press- and Public Relations
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Advokatenweg 36, 06114 Halle (Saale)
Tel.: +49 (0) 345-2927-425
Fax: +49 (0) 345-2927-202

Contact for this press release
Prof. Dr Marie-Claire Foblets
Director – Department Law & Anthropology
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Advokatenweg 36, 06114 Halle (Saale)
Tel.: +49 (0) 345-2927-301

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