Project Title

Transforming political representation from below: The role of (post)migrant civil society organizations in Germany (MigSoc)

Umbrella Project

Social Conflicts and Dynamics of Party Competition in Times of Migration and Integration (MigRep)

Funding Organization

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Germany)

Funding Period

01.01.2022 – 31.12.2024

Research Partners


Berliner Institut für empirische Integrations- und Migrationsforschung (BIM)


Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung (MZES)


Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Integrations- und Migrationsforschung (InZentIM)

Project Team Tunay Altay (doctoral researcher), TBA (student assistant), TBA (doctoral researcher)

Project Supervision Prof. Gökçe Yurdakul

Keywords Gender and sexuality; immigration; participation; democracy; intersectionality; Germany

Research Partners

Berliner Institut für empirische Integrations- und Migrationsforschung (BIM), Berlin

Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung (MZES), Mannheim

Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung (MZES), Mannheim

Introduction and Research Questions

Representation is fundamentally a question of democratic legitimacy. It concerns the legitimacy of public deliberation and the equal opportunity to exercise the democratic right to participation. The inclusion and representation of “migrants” in German politics have been a much-debated subject. The binary constructions of native-foreign, majority-minority and native-migrant have further troubled the dynamics of representation by relying on naturalized categories of identities over complex social phenomena. Within this complexity, postmigrant critique has introduced a shift in our understanding of the role of migration in Europe society as a beyond established migrant-native divide and taught ways to imagine pluralist concepts of belonging and democracy. Within the postmigrant spaces of politics, the political preferences have become more multifaceted and complex with changing representative demands of diverse political groups. 

By extending our scope in this way, this project studies the role and transformation of civil society in postmigrant turn by looking into the role of intersectional politics and representation and the changing context of migration and racism in Germany. By doing so, the project explores the bottom-up processes of political participation in Berlin. Our project will contribute to the growing scholarship on critical migration studies and intersectionality and focus on the question of how representative democracy and political participation intersect with inequalities caused by ethnicity, race, class, age, gender identity, and sexuality.

Our module will answer three overarching research questions:

  1. In what ways representative democracy and political participation challenged by intersectional inequalities, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and transphobia?
  2. In what ways do civil society organizations in Berlin mobilize for rights and representation in Germany? What are the discursive shifts and strategies to represent the issues of migration in Germany? 
  3. Under the complex conditions of contemporary democracy, what are the roles of migrant women and LGBTQ civil society organizations, advocacy groups, and initiates in advancing representative demands of diverse political groups in Germany?
  4. How can postmigrant critique and the women and LGBTQ migrants’ participation in civil society best be strengthened? 

In a bid to understand the transformation and the role of civil society actors in Germany, we form a triangular research design with in-depth interviews, surveys, and qualitative and automated content analysis of civil society organizations’ digital data. Our sampling will focus on the civil society organizations and associations that are part of the two major umbrella associations (Neu Deutsche Organisationen and Migrantionsrat e.V.) in Berlin.