Frank Kalter, Naika Foroutan
Outgroup mobility threat – how much intergenerational integration is wanted?

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2024: 50, Heft 1, S. 149-172
ISSN: 1369-183X (print), 1469-9451 (online)

The descendants of immigrants have become increasingly successful in Western European education systems and labor markets, which in principle supports Richard Alba’s new assimilation theory (NAT). Still, acceptance and recognition on the part of the mainstream has not kept pace. We have suggested outgroup mobility threat (OMT), the fear of being overtaken by intergenerational mobility, as one possible explanation. However, Richard Alba has argued that demographic changes widely lead to a non-zero-sum mobility and do not necessarily cause competition threat. In this paper, we relate Richard Alba's reasoning to the concept of OMT, focusing on the German immigration context. We bring together the arguments by distinguishing between realistic and symbolic threat and by differentiating between occupations and groups. We measure OMT and test our hypotheses using a vignette study that we recently conducted as part of the kick-off survey of the new National Discrimination and Racism Monitor (NaDiRa) in Germany. Our results confirm that Richard Alba's argument is superior to the simple competitive threat perspective. However, we also show that it is still insufficient, and OMT comes into play when immigrant groups move up into value-based occupations that are assumed to normatively shape society. Moreover, we demonstrate that this threat is felt particularly when Muslims ascend to these types of occupations.