Migration-related conflicts as challenge and opportunity for institutional change in small and larger metropolitan contexts

Processed at the UFZ by:

Collaboration partners:

University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning (Field: Urban and Spatial Planning)
Prof. Dr. Katrin Großmann (Project Coordinator)

Other participants: Prof. Dr. Nikolai Roßkamm, Prof. Dr. Reinhold Zemke, M.A. Maria Budnik, M.A. Christoph Hedtke

Practical partners

  • City of Leipzig, Amt für Stadtentwicklung und Wohnungsbauförderung (ASW, English: Office for Urban Development and Housing Promotion), Contact: Mary Uhlig; Referat für Migration und Integration (English: Department for Migration and Integration), Contact: Sylvia Gössel; Quartiersmanagement Schönefeld (Neighbourhood Managment), Contact: Felix Volgmann; CVJM Schönefeld (YMCA), Contact: Aaron Büchel-Bernhardt
  • City of Gelsenkirchen, Vorstandsbereich „Kultur, Bildung, Jugend, Sport und Integration“ (English: Board Division "Culture, Education, Youth, Sport and Integration"), Contact: Mustafa Çetinkaya (Commissioner for Intergration)
  • City of Bebra, Contact: Uli Rathmann; Türkisch Islamischer Kulturverein Bebra und Umgebung e.V. (Turkish Islamic Cultural Association Bebra and vicinities), Contact: Fatih Evren
  • Stiftung Mitarbeit (Foundation for Participation), Contact: Hanns-Jörg Sippel


Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Funding code:


Running time:

04/2018 - 12/2021


As places of social difference, cities and their neighbourhoods are repeatedly scenes for conflicts. They are confronted with diverse internal tensions, which result for instance from a dynamic and heterogeneous migration process. In MigraChance, we understand such conflicts as important moments of social change, as they provide opportunities for social interaction, urban learning, as well as for more general changes of perspective. On these grounds, MigraChance will examine the impact of migration-related conflicts with a particular focus on the transformation of local institutions.

In the course of conflicts, e.g. over the use of public spaces or the establishment of an asylum seekers accommodation, initiatives, networks or organisations emerge from society. They often claim to represent the needs and interests of different social groups. Meanwhile, municipal administrations often try to channel those emerging protests into representative and deliberative forms of participation, such as local district or integration councils. Since the latter often have a limited impact, innovative local forms of participation have been increasingly sought and opted for in recent years. This is why local authorities are putting their own procedures to the test, target new groups and try to refine the existing possibilities for participation. In a first step, MigraChance aims to retrospectively analyse the effects that migration-related conflicts can have or have already had on (sub-)local institutions. In a second step, we would like to prospectively explore new possibilities of conflict settlement on the basis of our case studies (in Bebra, Gelsenkirchen, Leipzig). Those new possibilities will be examined together with our municipal partners. From the results, new practices will be developed that allow the use of such conflicts for learning and transformation processes in the case cities as well as for strengthening democracy and social participation at the local level. What is more, training concepts will be elaborated with our partner Stiftung Mitarbeit to make our research also available to other municipalities.

Accordingly, the central questions of our joint research project are:

1. How do conflict constellations in response to immigration act as starting points for institutional change? 2. What kind of institutional learning processes are set in motion by such conflicts? 3. Finally, how can we generate strategic knowledge from those conflicts for more social participation, justice, and democratic procedures at the local level?

The project is directed and coordinated by the Fachhochschule Erfurt (University of Applied Science Erfurt), Department of Urban and Spatial Sociology (headed by Prof. Katrin Großmann). While our partners in Erfurt also do the research on the Hessian city of Bebra, the case study in Gelsenkirchen is carried out by our other associate, the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.

Tasks of the UFZ in MigraChance

The UFZ coordinates the overall management for one work package and shares leadership with project partners in some other packages. In addition, the case study on migration-related conflicts in Leipzig will be prepared, carried out and thoroughly scrutinized by the UFZ and in a second step discussed with the joint partners. The case study will be undertaken in close cooperation with stakeholders from Leipzig's civil society and city administration. A "market place" will be prepared for spring 2020 (with national and international guests), aiming to offer enough opportunities for discussing the research topic, exchanging ideas as well as reflecting together on the empirical results and methodological steps that were taken. Own and collective research results will be published both independently and with research partners in journals and books.

The Cities of the Case Studies

Leipzig represents a city that has long been affected by shrinkage and only started growing again in 2010, with a moderately increasing migrant population. One interesting example for a migration-related conflict emerged in 2014 on the occasion of an asylum seekers accommodation, which temporarily moved into a vacant school building. Protests and disagreement in the local population became manifest before, during and in the aftermath of the move-in. In the course of time many new actors (organisations, networks, initiatives) came into the public eye. In the case of Leipzig, MigraChance devotes special regard to the dynamic post-reunification period of an East German metropolis, although the different experiences and institutional changes associated with the mentioned conflicts are the centre of our interests.

Gelsenkirchen, a city in the Ruhr metropolitan region, was strongly affected by de-industrialisation and subsequently characterized by shrinkage for a relatively long time. Last year it grew temporarily, due to the influx of asylum seekers and EU foreigners from Eastern Europe. In the local case study, MigraChance examines the district of Gelsenkirchen Süd, which is clearly characterised by immigration and where unemployment currently stands at around 28%. Those and other factors are in the background of conflicts that have arisen in the district. The effects of the latter will be examined for the case of a large city in the old federal states of Germany with several generations of ,guest workers‘. Together with local actors (e.g. municipal administration, parochial institutions, neighbourhood associations and migrant organisation) we want to examine some of the mentioned conflicts that are associated with institutional change.

The city of Bebra is shaped by long-term experiences of migration . They reach back to the tradition of being a railway junction between East and West. The Bebra of today has an overall new-citizen-friendly image and, in addition to the expectable actors from politics and administration, possesses also long-established cultural associations (e.g. the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Association and the Syrian Orthodox (Aramaic) Church Community). The latter represent a significant proportion of the population with migration background. Our local case study focuses on the changing urban district "Göttinger Bogen", a housing estate of the 1950s and 1960s with a relatively high proportion with migration background and a significant rate of unemployment. Besides studying the emergence and processes of different conflicts in the context of a small town, here again, MigraChance will examine the related institutional changes.


Budnik, M., Krahmer, A. (2019): Migrationsbezogene Konflikte – Eine konflikttheoretische Annäherung, in: Grossmann, K. (Ed.), Migrationsbezogene Konflikte als Impuls für demokratisches Lernen und institutionellen Wandel? Literaturreview Teil I (www.migrachance.de/publikationen).

Haase, A., Hedtke, C., Resch, S. (2019): Migrationsforschung im Wandel – aktuelle Themen, Debatten und der Blick auf Konflikte in der postmigratischen Gesellschaft, in: Grossmann, K. (Ed.), Migrationsbezogene Konflikte als Impuls für demokratisches Lernen und institutionellen Wandel? Literaturreview Teil II (www.migrachance.de/publikationen).

Krahmer, A., Haase, A., Intelmann, D. (2020): Migrationsbezogene Konflikte und institutioneller Wandel in Leipzig – mit einem Anhang zur lokalen Migrationsgeschichte. (www.migrachance.de/publikationen).

Großmann, K., Roskamm, N., Budnik, M., Haase, A., Hedtke, C., Kersting, N., Krahmer, A., Messerschmidt, S., Müller, J., Resch, S. (2021): Konflikte als Hoffnungsträger. Auseinandersetzungen um die postmigrantische Stadtgesellschaft, in: Neue Politische Literatur (forthcoming).

Krahmer, A. (2021): Alles auf Zweikampf? – Oder Konfliktbetrachtung unter dem Vorzeichen der Pluralität, in: Großmann, K., Budnik, M., Haase, A., Hedtke, C., Krahmer, A. (Ed.) (2021), An Konflikten wachsen oder scheitern? Beiträge zur Reflexion eines komplexen Phänomens, Fachhochschule Erfurt, 77-98.

Dörner, W., Haase, A., Hedtke, C., Pilz, M. (2021): Konflikte und ihre Gegenbilder. Ein Gespräch, in: Großmann, K., Budnik, M., Haase, A., Hedtke, C., Krahmer, A. (Ed.) (2021), An Konflikten wachsen oder scheitern? Beiträge zur Reflexion eines komplexen Phänomens, Fachhochschule Erfurt, 29-46.

Haase, A. (2021): Zur Rolle von Konflikt im diskursiven Ringen um die postmigrantische Zukunft, in: Großmann, K., Budnik, M., Haase, A., Hedtke, C., Krahmer, A. (Ed.) (2021), An Konflikten wachsen oder scheitern? Beiträge zur Reflexion eines komplexen Phänomens, Fachhochschule Erfurt, 99-112.

Krahmer, A. (2021): Polarisierung im Kontext städtischer Konflikte mit Migrationsbezug, in: Leser, J., Pates, R., Stratenwerth, J. (Hg.), Deutsch ≠ Deutsch – Ein Bericht über die Multiplizität nationalen Denkens in Deutschland und die Veränderbarkeit nationaler Narrative mithilfe Politischer Laboratorien, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft: Darmstadt (forthcoming).

Krahmer, A. (2021): Leipzigs Konflikt um eine Ahmadiyya-Moschee. Ein Lehrstück „gelingender Integration“?, in: Hohnstein, S./Langner, J./Zschach, M. (Ed.), Lokale Konflikte in der Migrationsgesellschaft – Konflikterscheinungen und Konfliktbearbeitung (forthcoming).

Kersting, N., Budnik, M., Haase, A., Hedtke, C., Krahmer, A., (2022): Migrationsbeiräte und Demokratische Regression? Akteure, Konflikte und Repräsentation im Vergleich (in preparation).