Multifaceted Views on the Role of Language for Migrants’ Social Positions

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Isabell DIEKMANN, Osnabrück University, Germany
Joanna Jadwiga SIENKIEWICZ, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
Research frequently emphasizes the important role of language for migrants’ social integration into local and national communities, as well as their access and success on the labour market. Those findings highly relate on macro contextual conditions, for instance, the labour market situation or diverse evaluation of different languages as (dis-)advantageous for the labour market participation. In surveys ‘language’ is operationalized in different ways and relates to (self-evaluation of ) oral, written, and reading abilities in a countries given language, a mother tongue or other languages. However, research rarely uses this variety of measurements for social inequality analysis.

In our paper, we propose the analysis of many different dimensions of language abilities and practices and their impact on migrants’ social position drawing upon a large scale panel survey, the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) Migration Sample (n=5.000). Germany is a favored receiving country of immigration; it has nearly full employment, indicating a strong integration of residing citizens and non-citizens into the labour market. Our data have the great advantage to measure language in various ways and dimensions (attendance in language class, language used in family, with friends and at the workplace, oral, written, and reading abilities in German and mother tongue, etc.). Our analyses will yield a multifaceted interpretation of the influence of language on migrants’ social position. In this way, we are able to explore and discuss the characteristics of diverse language abilities for integration into the German labour market.