Migration as a building bloc of middle-class nation-building?

Just out: new article by Oliver Schmidtke, Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria

Over the past twenty-five years, Germany has seen substantial shifts towards more robust and expansive migration and integration policies addressing immigration primarily as a socio-economic resource and an irreversible reality defining contemporary German society. Yet, the idea of Germany as a ‘country of immigration’ has remained contested and polarizing in electoral politics particularly on the political right: While the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) under Chancellor Merkel’s leadership has gradually endorsed immigration as an integral part of its socio-economic modernization agenda, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has embarked on a nativist rejection of all forms of immigration and cultural diversity. Based on a frame analysis, the article argues that the idea of middle-class nation-building through immigration has allowed the Christian Democratic Union to move away from its traditional anti-immigrant stand and integrate related issues into its market-driven political agenda. The key hypothesis is that the Christian Democrats have been able to modernize the party’s middle-class nation-building ambition by adopting its basic rationale to the recruitment and integration of immigrants into German society. In contrast, the AfD has embarked on an opposing trajectory as the political advocate for identity-driven, anti-immigrant sentiments and an exclusionary nationalism.