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Integration. Law. Expertise.

New media service: online platform provides information on the German integration law ("Integrationsgesetz"); experts from the University of Konstanz's Center of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Social Integration" comment on the new law.

Before the summer break, the German Bundestag and Bundesrat will vote on the integration law. The draft law is highly controversial – the cabinet itself praises it as a significant step forward, whereas social organisations like PRO ASYL reject it as a "disintegration law". The new online platform "Integration. Gesetz. Expertise" (Integration. Law. Expertise) contains statements on the draft law by researchers of the Center of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Social Integration" at the University of Konstanz. The Center of Excellence is a large, interdisciplinary joint research project at the University of Konstanz and contributes to the debate on the integration law with its combined legal and political expertise, ethnological, social and cultural scientific perspectives.

The University of Konstanz provides this media service for journalists who need scientific background information for reporting on the integration law. Does the integration law live up to its name? Which aspects of integration are included, which ones excluded? In what way are specific regulations controversial from a legal perspective? In interviews, background texts and commentaries, the researchers specify and explain the complex law or examine it critically. "The contributions display the variety of perspectives with which integration can be viewed. The legislator's view is only one among many. The situation is very complex including conflicting interests, and also disintegrating processes," explains Christopher Möllmann, executive coordinator of the Center of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Social Integration".

The Cluster of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Integration" examines processes of integration and disintegration over long spaces of time and in all levels of society. Its work ranges from the requirements of family and neighbourly coexistence to policy issues on a global scale. The German Research Association (DFG) will be funding the association for research in cultural theory and history at the University of Konstanz, established in 2006, until October 2017 in the framework of the Excellence Initiative funded by the German federal and state governments.

Topic overview and quotations

You can read all the expert opinions (in German) at:

"The new 'integration law' with its ambitious title raises expectations to a level it can scarcely fulfil. Of course, the law contains a number of detailed regulations that make perfect sense, but are nothing more than details in the jigsaw puzzle of integration policy, which do not combine to define a new path forward."

Daniel Thym, professor of public, European and international law as well as co-director of the Research Centre Immigration & Asylum Law at the University of Konstanz, on the legal significance of the integration law.

"Germany is a cosmopolitan country with a labour market that, due to demographic developments, relies on immigration: this is the picture the law paints, which is one view among many, and most certainly not an unselfish one. The untold story, however, is about the migrants themselves. Understanding for their dire situation is expressed in word, but the undertone of the regulations themselves is marked by reservation."

Albrecht Koschorke, professor of contemporary German literature and general literary studies, about the stories hidden behind the paragraphs.

"All in all this integration law breathes the spirit of a fire-fighting operation. It is a step in the right direction, but we should not have any illusions: the law will only make a modest contribution to sustainable integration."

Wolfgang Seibel, professor of politics and public administration, differentiates between the integration law and a comprehensive immigration law.

"What is missing in the law, is a projection: where will it lead and why are we doing this? The law focusses only on the first five years. Integration itself, though, is something else: integration is a long-term perspective. We have to truly demonstrate: this society is a space of possibility everybody can contribute to."

Özkan Ezli, academic staff member and project manager in the Center of Excellence, on the lacking dimension of the integration law.

"Although offering integration measures for refugees certainly is commendable, the integration law also includes questionable goals. Implementing these plans may have negative consequences for the integration courses, which it is actually trying to optimise."

Anna Louban, doctoral candidate in cultural anthropology with a focus on migration and bureaucracy research, on the system of integration courses.

"Since programmes focusing on the labour market are the most effective, it makes sense for the state to focus its efforts on promoting language learning and employment."

Thomas Wöhler, doctoral candidate in sociology with a focus on empirical social research, on the importance of employment for successful integration.

"The research carried out in our Center of Excellence has demonstrated in numerous cases and aspects that diversity is the pre-requisite for creating and stabilising differentiated social structures in the first place."

Rudolf Schlögl, professor of modern history and speaker of the Center of Excellence, on the integration research carried out in Konstanz.