Migration and Social Policy Research Group: studies on the governance, shaping and use of (local) social policy with reference to refugee migration
Migration movements leave their mark on the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. Cross-border commuters, persons acquiring claims in various national welfare state systems, internal EU migration and labour migration change social self-definition, policy objectives, problem perception and administrative practices. The fact that cross-border migration creates friction with the essentially nation state-oriented social security and pension systems has been a topic of discussion for many years.
With the immigration of refugees in the last few years, long-standing action requirements have recently come to the forefront. Issues like recognition of educational and professional qualifications, access to educational opportunities and the labour market, as well as to health services depending on individuals’ particular residence status, are once again being focused on by academic circles and likewise by local political practice.
At the same time, local contexts and arrangements are also the focus of academic attention. The field of local social and integration policy, in particular, is now undergoing persistent reform; municipalities are seen as key players in enabling and facilitating the participation of migrants. Initially, the municipalities were mainly concerned with questions of housing and the basic needs of refugees; nowadays the tasks are shifting and multiplying in the direction of organizing and coordinating social services in various fields of social policy. At the same time, the interaction of local actors is currently developing a range of pragmatically imaginative approaches that is difficult to keep track of and that needs to be grasped, systematized and evaluated.
Against this background, the Migration and Social Policy research group is investigating how social networks and services are co-produced in local networks. Above all, we would like to emphasize the user point of view, that is, the subjective viewpoints of refugees. How do refugees see their social welfare benefits, how do they assess their situation, and what kind of benefits or non-benefits do they derive from the various offers? Our research on the prerequisites, benefits and hopes of refugees aims not only to improve social services, but also to contribute to the participation of refugees in processes of interpreting and structuring local realities of life.
At the same time, we assume that the present form and practice of local social policy can only be interpreted against the background of the transformation of the welfare state into policies of activation, social investment and personal responsibility: refugees are also, and particularly, affected by issues of equal opportunities and fair and just distribution, obligation to provide and enable education and gainful employment, the opportunity to deal independently with matters relating to health and / or health services, gender equality and access to living and housing space.