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Naturalisation and integration: subjective dimensions of the change of citizenship

The objective of this project was to look into subjective dimensions which are involved in changing nationality or gaining an additional nationality and how this is related to other aspects of the integration process. In qualitative in-depth interviews with people who have already been naturalised, the following issues were analysed:

  • What do the interviewees know about the German citizenship law and naturalisation?
  • What motives were taken into consideration for their decision to apply for German citizenship? Which was most important? Were the motives for their decision primarily instrumental?
  • Do naturalised persons perceive obtaining a German passport as a means of improving their resources or social opportunities? Do they feel they have equal opportunities on the labour market and in education in the receiving society or do they experience discrimination?
  • Do they think they can influence the receiving society by means of political participation?
  • How are they perceived by membership and reference groups after naturalisation?
  • Does naturalisation give them a feeling of security (regarding residence status)?
  • Does naturalisation lead the persons involved to develop an interest in the culture and history of the receiving country? Does naturalisation influence whether norms, values and cultural daily habits remain oriented towards the country of origin or whether they begin to converge with those of the receiving country?
  • What impact does naturalisation have on the emotional side of integration? Do feelings of belonging to and loyalty towards the receiving country develop?

The project examined the wide range of subjective aspects that are involved in a person's individual decision to apply for German citizenship. It researched whether the way that the naturalised persons perceive the receiving society changes and how naturalisation is connected with other aspects of the integration process. One of the project's objectives was to find out whether "types of naturalisation" can be discovered in the data into which the respondents can be categorised.The project makes it possible to broaden the discussion on naturalisation, research into which usually focuses on legal aspects, to include personal, psychosocial and identificational aspects. The hypotheses generated from the project might later be tested in a standardised representative survey.

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Completion: November 2003
Researchers: Tanja Wunderlich, Susanne Worbs
Publication: Wunderlich, Tanja: Die neuen Deutschen. Subjektive Dimensionen des Einbürgerungsprozesses. Forum Migration 9. Stuttgart Lucius & Lucius, 2005

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