Bielefeld (dpa) – When it comes to the conflict problem of immigration, a study shows that the proportion of people who see integration as the right path is falling.
In 2020, attitudes against “anti-integration” – devaluation of refugees, Muslims and xenophobia – increased, as evidenced by the representative long-term analysis “ZuGleich”, which Bielefeld researchers and the Mercator Foundation presented on Monday. The corona pandemic also had an impact on attitudes, says research director Andreas Zick.
According to this, only 48 percent of the population is in favor of integration, meaning that they want to continue to give immigrants their cultural identity while also allowing them to participate in society in this country. Integration approval has declined since the first “ZuGleich” survey in 2014 (60 percent approval). Integration takes effort from everyone, including local residents, emphasized Zick, head of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence at the University of Bielefeld. Respect for the cultural characteristics of newcomers and the recognition of equality are central to integration. But here it is clearly a problem.
Almost one in three believe that immigrants should give up their own cultural stamp, absolutely adapt to the majority society, ie assimilate, explains co-author Nora Rebekka Krott. Another ten percent do not deny immigrants their own cultural identity, but do not want them to participate in Germany. And every tenth also denies immigrants both the preservation of their own identity and social participation.
Interesting: In principle, many immigrants also think that newcomers should adapt more unilaterally. The longer you live in this country, the stronger this demand will be.
Four representative surveys since 2014 have been included in the long-term survey of the population’s attitudes towards belonging and equality – “ZuGleich”. For the youngest, more than 2,000 adults were surveyed from November 2020 to January 2021, almost a third with an immigration history.
A “culture of defense” identified
“frightening” from the point of view of the study’s authors: a growing group is demanding privileges for themselves as supposedly established people. A good 38 percent agreed with the statement: “Anyone new to Germany or joining later should settle for less”. A ‘culture of defense’ has been identified and increasing values have been measured in the devaluation of refugees (28 percent) and hostility towards Muslims, which was revealed by well over a third of those surveyed.
About 30 percent can be assumed to be xenophobic. 40 percent think there are too many migrants in Germany. One in four say Muslim culture has a “dangerous influence” on German culture. A good quarter of all citizens across the country have an immigration history and a quarter of them are Muslim.
What criteria must immigrants meet in order to belong? “The respondents now have a higher bar for affiliation,” observes social psychologist Zick. Above all, they must speak German, respect political institutions and laws, work and receive no social assistance, as a large majority of over 80 percent believe. One in four considers it essential to be born in Germany or to be a Christian. In 2020, it will mainly be the political center that will make these demands on immigrants.
What is the effect of the pandemic? Many people who see themselves heavily burdened by the Corona crisis are concerned about social or financial issues. For some, this is also reflected in their attitude to integration, Zick explains. Particularly in the pandemic, there is also resistance to a policy of open borders – although there was hardly any migration due to the corona. In addition, exchanges and meetings would have been difficult due to the corona requirements.
A positive result: a large majority of three quarters agree with the statement that migrants should participate in social life. But there are contradictions, Zick emphasized. If you ask specific questions about the acceptance of diversity, you come across as skeptical. Other cultures are associated with prejudice for many. A third of immigrants said they were often or very often exposed to racial abuse. “Racism slows down the integration process.”
And what about the much-cited ‘hospitality culture’? It is enjoying increasing popularity. However, there is also a but: after the strong refugee movement in 2015, according to Zick, it is now less about welcoming and more about real arrival and attitude to living together. The topic will challenge Germany and have a strong impact on the future.