Conditions and Processes of Migrants' Structural Assimilation in the German Soccer League System

Research question/goal: 

In the Federal Republic of Germany the children and grandchildren of so-called "guestworkers" still occupy lower positions in the educational system and in the labour market. According to recent studies this holds true even if socio-economic background variables, classical indicators of migration history and cognitive assimilation are controlled. While standard theories of migrant integration cannot totally account for the persistence of ethnic inequality, three general approaches (mutually connected) seem to be promising in this respect: elaborated theories of discrimination, the extension of the concept of capital to cultural and social resources, and some more or less formalised models, which try to conceive patterns of inequality as the result of processes of self-selection and dynamic interactions.In this project the positions and mobility (in the classical sense the 'structural assimilation') of migrants are analysed within the hierarchical system of the German football league. Here, we find background conditions, which are very interesting from a theoretical point of view: In the field of sports competition is especially institutionalised and legitimised. According to prominent theories of discrimination disadvantages to minorities should vanish if competition is perfect. In the field of sports the capital actors need to perform well is more general (and less receiving-country-specific) than in other social fields and therefore barriers resting on 'false' capital may be overcome more quickly. As a conse-quence the third group of explanations, processes of self-selection and dynamic interactions, may be studied under very convenient conditions.

Fact sheet

2000 to 2002
Data Sources: 
interviews with players and coaches
Geographic Space: 



Kalter, Frank (2003): Chancen, Fouls und Abseitsfallen. Migranten im deutschen Ligenfußball. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. more