Participation in Ethnic Associations - Immigrants as Political Actors
The goal of the "Immigrants as Political Actors" project is to explain immigrant integration in the context of political participation. Relatively little attention has been paid in receiver countries to this aspect until now, particularly when compared with the attention lavished on the educational system or on workplace integration. This research lacuna mirrors the long-held view that labor migrants are only temporary guests whose political participation is of no real relevance, and therefore also of no theoretical interest. Yet extant, formal political exclusion, reflected in the lack of the franchise, is increasingly being regarded as a problem, inasmuch as a large percentage of the "foreigners" in Germany live here permanently, or were even born here. The research project concerns itself with the question how immigrants react to this exclusion. Three possibilities can be discerned: they can generally keep themselves out of political discussions and decision-making; they can focus their activity on the problems and issues of their home countries; or they can become involved in forms of political participation not formally closed to them - such as in ethnically segregated or ethnically neutral organizations and associations, and in that manner participate in more unconventional ways in the politics of the receiver country.