Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Being an Ethnic Minority: Belonging Uncertainty of People Without a Migration Background

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Abstract:  We delve into the implications of the national ethnic majority being a minority in local settings by examining their daily experiences when they find themselves outnumbered by other ethnic groups in their neighbourhood. Drawing on the theory of “belonging uncertainty,” this article explores the variety of ways in which people without a migration background cope with such situations. Belonging uncertainty is the feeling that “people like me do not belong here.” Based on in‐depth interviews (n = 20) conducted in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods in Vienna, we argue that the experience of belonging uncertainty results in two different coping strategies: avoidance of spaces numerically dominated by another ethnic group or learning to overcome belonging uncertainty. Some people without a migration background often perceive spaces where another ethnicity is the numerical majority as exclusionary, even if they are not explicitly excluded, and accordingly, they avoid such contexts. Others develop strategies that allow them to establish a feeling of belonging in spaces where they initially experienced belonging uncertainty. As such, some individuals overcome the feeling of belonging uncertainty.

Keywords:  belonging uncertainty; ethnic diversity; inter‐ethnic contact; majority–minority; reflexivity; Vienna



© Lisa‐Marie Kraus, Elif Keskiner, Maurice Crul. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.