Talking about Migration Experience and Voting: How Germans of Turkish and Russian Descent Construct Their Personal Electoral Space in Groups of Peers

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - G466 (University of Glasgow)
Dennis Christopher Spies , University of Cologne
Achim Goerres , University of Duisburg-Essen
Sabrina Mayer , Political Science, University of Duisburg-Essen
This paper deals with the way in which the electorally relevant political space is structured in the heads of Germans with an immigrant background. The analysis is based on new focus group data of Germans of Russian and of Turkish descent that will be collected prior to the 2017 Bundestag election. The focus groups will be structured by language (German/Turkish/Russian), by direct migration experience (yes/no) and by education. Two general theoretical propositions guide this study. Socio-economic integration leads to diminishing differences between members of the migrant group and the majority populations in the dynamics of voting choice. Personal experiences with migration and how these are used to frame one’s social identity shapes the ways in which individuals think about voting.  By means of a qualitative content analysis, the study explores the following questions: (1) what are relevant political issues that participants bring forward in a discussion with peers about their voting decisions? Among those, which are typical of migrants? (2) To what extent do participants reveal ways of arguing and thinking that are different from those of the majority population? Do they, for instance, use concepts of their migrant identity to legitimise their ways of arguing? (3) Are there differences among participants among the lines of gender, education, religion, migrant group and personal migration experience that seem worthwhile a consecutive general test? The qualitative findings are used to generate general hypotheses to guide the data collection of the First German Migrant Election Study at the end of 2017.