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The national framework in international migration: continued importance in times of constant challenges

Eran Gündüz, Johanna Probst



By analyzing issues of citizenship and asylum policies in a French-German context, this article shows in how far “national belonging” as a category remains relevant in both social research and social reality. Discussing critically the notion of declining relevance of the concept of “nation” in recent academic contributions, the aim of this article is to provide empirical cases which underline the continuance of the analytical categories of nation and national belonging for social research. Referring in particular to the traditional antagonism of the German “ethnic” and the French “political” understanding of nation and national belonging, this article argues that supra-national forces such as the EU or the partial permeability of national borders to immigration flows have a strong impact on the self-definition of these national societies. With their methodological consequences for the use of “nation” as a concept in the social sciences, these political and social changes illustrate that “nation” cannot be seen as a hermeneutic and unchangeable category of societal life. In this context, the authors interpret the reform of the German citizenship law in 2000 as a significant shift towards an open political society – in contrast to an ethnic understanding. According to the authors, nation and national belonging become particularly relevant in the definition of and struggle over citizenship, i.e. is this national institution inclusive or exclusive vis-à-vis immigrants? The analysis of the French and the German asylum-procedure shows that national belonging is a highly significant element in the treatment of asylum claims.

Keywords: Germany – France; Comparative methods; Nation; Citizenship; Asylum policies; Immigration; Social research


Bibliographie: Gündüz, Eran/Probst, Johanna: The national framework in international migration: continued importance in times of constant challenges, ZQF, 1+2-2014, S. 147-162.


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