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Who can participate?

In the project, we empirically analysed what influences people's political attitudes and behaviour and looked at a much broader range of different factors. How do people with and without a history of migration actually engage in politics? To find this out, we conducted a representative multilingual survey in Germany.


There are many debates about people with a so-called “migration background” in Germany. Most of these discussions, however, fall short in two crucial ways: 1) they often assume that having a migration biography means something coherent and that it could be used as one homogeneous category to characterize a group in the population, while we know that it is very diverse; and 2) they often presume that for people with a migration background, this is the decisive factor in explaining their motivation to engage with the political system – ignoring that other intersecting aspects such as gender,  economic status, or experiences of racism might be as important.  

This project aimed to break up such simplified assumptions. Rather than assuming that people with a migration biography must hold certain values or views of the political system, we analysed empirically what really shapes political attitudes and behavior, engaging with a much wider set of different characteristics. We explored how different groups of people usually talked about by others actually engage politically and experience barriers to their participation.

In this project, we conducted a representative mulitlingual survey in Germany that included large enough samples of people with different migration biographies to properly reflect their views and compare them to the views of the population overall. We asked questions about political attitudes and behavior on the one hand and experiences and factors that affect participation on the other hand. The results enabled us to construct new approaches to differentiation and challenge existing frameworks in relation to what groups can be found to share which barriers to political participation within and beyond structures of representative party politics.

This project was funded by the Open Society Foundations and we published first results in June 2021.

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