Migration as Social Seismograph: an Analysis of Germany’s ‘Refugee Crisis’ Controversy

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


This article tests the hypothesis that the attitude towards migration can be understood as a social seismograph for the degree of a society’s degree of democratisation. In this article I present my hypothesis and analyse the constellation of arguments within the public controversy following the so-called refugee crisis in Germany. I work out the internal problematics structuring the three main polarisations in this discourse. Most of the contributions analysed here are interventions rather than academic texts (albeit often authored by academics) making practical suggestions to cope with what they respectively relate to different definitions of crisis. Methodologically, this article is based on a thorough reading of essays and books and their relation to one another, with view to the current conjuncture. Understanding this ‘crisis’ after 2015 requires an approach attentive not only to the different ‘politics of polarisations’ within the public controversy but also to the real and phantasmal dimensions of the crisis. Although the figure of the refugee has began to occupy a central role in the discussion of migration policy, the debate has, I demonstrate, surprisingly little or nothing to do with migration whatsoever, but rather speak to the degree of required democratisation.

ZeitschriftInternational Journal of Politics, Culture and Society
Seiten (von - bis)335-356
Anzahl der Seiten22
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.12.2018