Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Restriction, Simplification, Externalization: How German refugee accommodation centers deal with diversity related uncertainty

Presentation by Alexander-Kenneth Nagel (University of Göttingen)

European debates about the reception and accommodation of refugees have since the very beginning of the so called “refugee crisis” in 2015 circled around religious issues: Some (of the most secularized) postsocialist countries rediscovered their Christian cultural heritage as an argument against the immigration of Muslims, and in Germany reports on interreligious conflicts nurtured claims for a separation of refugees along religious lines. The talk draws on an extensive case study on religious diversity and practice in refugee accommodation centers in Lower Saxony. It focuses on the administrative staff, social workers and security personnel in these centers who face a high degree of uncertainty vis-à-vis the multireligious and multicultural constellation they encounter. Based on institutionalist approaches three idealtypical organizational responses to diversity-related uncertainty will be outlined, namely i) a restrictive reading of religious neutrality, ii) a reduction of complexity through culturalist stereotypes and iii) an externalization of institutional responsibilities related to religious diversity.

Prof. Dr. Alexander-Kenneth Nagel is Managing Director of the Cultural Sociology Department at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen.