“ ‘Fear of the Family’: Migration and Integration in West Germany, 1955-2000” examines the division between “family” and “labor” that marked West German migration policy from the beginning of foreign labor recruitment in 1955 to the 1999 citizenship reform that introduced a form of jus soli citizenship for the grandchildren of the original foreign workers. As migrants insisted on claiming space in German society as both workers and family members, the state’s attempts to uphold a boundary between “labor” and “family” within the migration process led to harsher restrictions on migration. During the original period of labor recruitment, from 1955 to 1973, employers and state officials encouraged family reunification because it made it easier to access highly desirable female labor and for keeping foreign workers involved in their families and separate from German society. Officials also recognized the role of the family as a site for performing reproductive labor and understood the presence of foreign families as a way to unburden the German welfare state. Immediately after the 1973 recruitment stop, the state announced the 1974 Kindergeld reform whereby workers would receive less money for children who lived outside of the European Economic Community—previously, workers had received the same amount of money for children whether they lived in Augsburg or Ankara. This welfare reform created the basis for a long-lasting narrative whereby the migration of children was primarily about economic gain rather than the desire to live as a family. At the same time, the state continued to allow family migration but refused to grant new family migrants work permits, upholding a boundary between “family” and “labor” by creating a large population of adults legally excluded from the labor market. From the beginning of the labor recruitment, migrants had arrived through channels that explicitly promoted “traditional” family values and family roles, but during the late 1970s and accelerating over the course of the 1980s, the gendered division of labor and self-containment of the foreign family promoted by migration policy were now taken to be unchanging characteristics of those same families. New restrictions on child and spousal migration imposed during the 1980s were justified by narratives about protecting the vulnerable members of the family—children and women—from foreign patriarchs who insisted on making poor decisions for their families. When migrant families failed to live up to the responsibility of reproduction as defined by the state, their failure furthered processes of stigmatization, not just of individual families, but also of the entire “Mediterranean” or “Southern family.” New restrictions rested on narratives about how the foreign family was inherently different and perhaps inherently inassimilable. These understandings of the role of the foreign family influenced the 1999 citizenship reform, which focused on the introduction of jus soli for children born on German soil without significantly liberalizing access to citizenship for foreign adults. Over the course of fifty years, “family unity” has almost completely eroded as a principle for migration policy, while the “ability to integrate” has increasingly been understood as an individual project that requires a break from the family of origin.




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