Limits of Complexity? – the Need of a Multilevel Approach in Migration Research

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: Booth 51
Oral Presentation
Gwendolyn GILLIÉRON , Integration and Participation, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, 4600 Olten, Switzerland
In the age of migration, cities have become heterogenic places, which strongly influence the life courses of their inhabitants. They define their framework of opportunities in the economic, educational and social fields. As heterogenic places, cities are also a dimension of inequality challenged to integrate the growing diversity of their inhabitants. In an international complementary research project on life strategies of migrant families in different local, regional and national urban contexts, the question of heterogeneity and its possibility for comparison arises. The multilevel approach is applied to different urban and political contexts in Basel (Switzerland), Freiburg (Germany) and Klagenfurt (Austria). The complexity of this research is challenging, because there are not only life strategies of migrant families, which will be researched and internationally compared, but also the relevance of local, regional and national influence on life strategies will be analysed. What is particularly interesting is the question concerning the sort of orientations migrant families develop towards the location they are living in and how they are influenced by local and national factors.

By identifying and discussing the relevant contexts for multilevel analysis in our international research project, the paper will present methodological challenges of multilevel analysis in the international comparison research. While the multilevel framework guarantees intersubjectivity and contributes to avoiding methodological nationalism, it raises the question about the limits of complexity in the international comparative research. Based on the analysis of group discussions in all three localities, we will show how multilevel research works in practice and discuss difficulties regarding research practice and methodology.