Exploring the Nexus between Migration and Social Positions using a Mixed Methods Approach

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Exploring the Nexus between Migration and Social Positions using a Mixed Methods Approach


  • Ingrid Tucci LEST—Institute for Labour Economics and Industrial Sociology, CNRS, Aix Marseille University, France
  • Joanna J. Fröhlich Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University, Germany
  • Inka Stock Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University, Germany


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Abstract:  Using a mixed methods approach, this article analyses the nexus between migration and social positions drawing on recent survey data on migrants who have arrived in Germany after 1994 from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), as well as qualitative interviews with 26 respondents to the survey. Drawing on a Bourdieusian forms of capital approach (Bourdieu, 1986) and applying the method of Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) to the SOEP survey data, we highlight two dimensions structuring the nexus between migration and social positions in Germany: (1) capital related to legal status and multiple migration and (2) (trans)national cultural capital. Through a cluster analysis based on the MCA results, we then identify and describe four profiles of migrants characterised by distinct configurations of cultural capital (social class background, education and linguistic skills before and after settlement), legal status (citizenship and status at migration), experiences of multiple cross-border movements and social positions: the ‘foreign working-class,’ the ‘foreign middle class,’ the ‘adapted German migrants,’ and the ‘young highly educated urbans.’ The complementary analysis of the qualitative data allows us to go further in understanding some of the factors that may play a role in shaping migrants’ social position(ing) in the four clusters. In particular, we show that resources such as determination and perseverance can be crucial for some migrants to counter structural constraints related to their legal status in transferring or accessing cultural capital, and that linguistic skills are also used by some migrants as a marker of social distinction.

Keywords:  cultural capital; Germany; mixed methods; migrants; migration; mobility; social positions; SOEP; social stratification; symbolic capital

Published:   18 February 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v9i1.3538


© Ingrid Tucci, Joanna J. Fröhlich, Inka Stock. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.