Social Mobility through Spatial Mobility? Migrant Academics in German Cities in the Time of the “Global Competition for Talent”

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 11:45
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Kyoko SHINOZAKI, Osnabrück University, Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies, Germany
Social inequalities in migration studies have often been debated in relation to a ‘classical’ kind of labor migration into ‘less-skilled’ sectors of labor markets: they are located at the bottom of social strata because of their low level of skills and racial discrimination. Others may experience deskilling through migration because they (are forced to) take up employment far below their actual level of qualifications or skills, which often simultaneously operates with racial and gender stereotypes. This paper aims to question this presumption that equates migration into ‘less-skilled’ sectors with social inequalities, by looking at migrant academics in German case-study universities as an example of privileged transnational professionals. More specifically, drawing on statistics and interviews, the paper examines the ways in which their career progression intersects with gender, the type of migration/mobility experience, racialization and citizenship. Though not a nationally representative claim, my analysis of case-study higher education institutions shows that the proportion of non-German citizens tends to decrease as the career ladder goes up higher. However, how do migrant academics deal with obstacles through transnational mobility? It will then explore these migrants’ strategies. The individual experiences of social and spatial mobility—or a lack of them—will be critically reflected upon in relation to Germany’s recent liberalization of migration regulations and laws, which has articulated a shift from “not a country of immigration” to a country of skill-based, selective immigration.