Forced Migration and Labor

The topics of forced migration and labor are interwoven in many ways, for example with regard to questions of residence law and social policy, issues of recognition, social integration in the workplace and social participation, as well as racist exclusions and agency perspectives. The working group “Forced Migration and Labor” thus deals with a broad range of topics, which the members of the working group consider from multiple perspectives in their research and in practice-related contexts of action.
In public discourse, gainful employment is understood as central to the “integration” of immigrants. With regard to the organization of labor market access for refugees, it can be observed that the partial labor market for them includes not only gainful employment subject to social insurance, which offers access to welfare systems, but also the “shadow economy”.
Overall, the participation of refugees in the labor market is caught between hurdles under residence law and (racist) exclusions, “integration measures” and considerations of usefulness, for example by placing newly immigrated in so-called “shortage occupations”. However, these are often characterized by precarious working conditions and low social standing.
From the perspective of refugees, taking up gainful employment plays a central role. Access to gainful employment can lead to financial independence, an increase in self-esteem and a sense of belonging, and represents an essential form of social participation. In addition, taking up gainful employment is often the starting point for a longer-term perspective of staying, e.g. for tolerated persons, for obtaining/extending a residence permit or in the course of applying for a settlement permit and naturalization. While taking up gainful employment is often useful for obtaining a “secure” residence title, refugees are confronted with a variety of structural hurdles when it comes to accessing employment (e.g. in the recognition of educational and professional qualifications they have brought with them or in accessing adequate employment).

Aims of the Working Group “Forced Migration and Labor”
The aim of the working group is to discuss and reflect on theoretical, methodological, practical and ethical challenges of research in the field of forced migration and labor. Furthermore, the working group aims to further develop German-based research on “labor market integration” and the positioning of refugees in labor markets by pooling empirical findings and interdisciplinary perspectives. The working group sees itself as open and is supported by the self-organized commitment of its members.
The activities of the working group are therefore largely determined by the interests and concerns of its members. If you are interested in joining the working group, please contact the coordinators.

Monique Ritter
Hochschule Zittau/Görlitz


Marina Ruth
Universität Duisburg-Essen
Institut Arbeit und Qualifikation