From the Camp to the Classroom – Forced Migration, Local School Governance and the Avoidance of "Throwntogetherness" in Germany

Authors: Marcus Emmerich*, University of Tuebingen, Yannick Sudermann*, University of Tuebingen
Topics: Migration, Social Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: educational segregation, inclusion, refugee crisis, stigmatization, governance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Marriott Ballroom Salon 3, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Increasing numbers of refugee-arrivals in 2015/2016 compelled the German compulsory school system to develop and implement integration strategies addressing the newcomers. After a four-year primary school, pupils are traditionally allocated to different secondary school types providing school leaving certificates of unequal quality and value. The system amplifies social selectivity and socio-spatial disparities by its internal grouping and tracking practices, which evidently have been affecting migrant pupils since the 1970s (Geißler 2005). Based on qualitative expert interviews with education professionals and local decision makers in eight communities, our paper analyses how and with what intended/unintended consequences local school administrations organise the allocation of pupils with no or little German language skills to the different secondary school types (Emmerich et al 2017). Given the German grammar of schooling outlined above, our preliminary findings already show a) a variety of local allocation strategies, but b) a dominance of organizational measures separating newcomers structurally and spatially from regular classes; finally, c) a systematic tendency to channel newcomers to the low achieving and less valued school types. We argue, that the German school system tends to avoid places of “throwntogetherness” (Massey 2005) by systematically separating newcomers from regular classes and school types of high value. Furthermore, it fosters the social stigmatization of migrant and refugee pupils as well as their future exclusion from economic and political participation. Hence, the school system provides institutionalized discrimination rather than educational integration.

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