Studying life circumstances of refugees in Germany: A feasibility analysis

February 2, 2016, 13:45 h

Mannheim, Conference room B2,8

David Schiefer


Since the mid 1990s refugee immigration to Germany hasn’t been as high on the political agenda as it currently is. Besides the enormous challenges of handling registration, accomodation, providing adequate welfare, and managing asylum applications, and besides the political discussions emerging from these challenges, the current situation also offers the unique opportunity to discuss and reform asylum policies and reflect on our basic stance towards refugee immigration. For such a reform and the development of adequate actions and programms, however, reliable knowledge of the life circumstances and needs of refugees in Germany is necessary. Most public debates lack especially one perspective: the one of the refugees themselves. Refugee research as one of the central access paths to this required knowledge is currently only a small segment of social science migration research in Germany. Against this background, the Research Unit of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration in cooparation with the Robert Bosch Foundation conducted a feasibility study on the empirical assessment of life circumstances of refugees in Germany. As a first step, research questions were developed together with agents from politics, civil society, economy, and science. Based on this, several quantitative and qualitative approaches were examined with regard to their suitability to answer the research questions as well as their practical feasibility. Through desk research, expert interviews and workshops we analysed, among other issues, ways to quantify the total refugee population in Germany, possible sampling procedures, strategies to access participants, and advantages and disadvantages of a quantitative versus a qualitative approach. The presentation will provide insights into the results of this feasibility study.

About the speaker

David Schiefer is a psychologist and researcher in the Research Unit of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR). After his studies in Psychology he became a research associate at Jacobs University Bremen and has earned his PhD there. His dissertation investigated the mutual relationships between societal-cultural value priorities and individual psychological characteristics. Focus of his work in several international and inter-university research projects were psychological aspects of bicultural identities (acculturation, value complexity) as well as relationships between cultural majorities and minorities. He was furthermore postdoctoral fellow at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences for two years.