Integration-An Outline from the Perspective of the Sociology of Knowledge

Hans-Georg Soeffner, Dariuš Zifonun
2008 unpublished
Qu ua al li it ta at ti iv ve e S So oc ci io ol lo og gy y R Re ev vi ie ew w V Vo ol lu um me e I IV V I Is ss su ue e 2 2 w ww ww w. .q qu ua al li it ta at ti iv ve es so oc ci io ol lo og gy yr re ev vi ie ew w. .o or rg g 3 3 Q Qu ua al li it ta at ti iv ve e S So oc ci io ol lo og gy y R Re ev vi ie ew w Abstract In this conceptual essay we argue that the study of migration can substantially benefit from an interactionist notion of integration. Basing our considerations on Berger's and
more » ... s on Berger's and Luckmann's sociology of knowledge, we develop a differentiated understanding of integration as an ongoing process which comes to be institutionalized in characteristic forms. With regard to these forms of institutionalization, we focus our attention on the relatively stable spheres of social action characterized by Anselm Strauss as social worlds, structures that are continuously produced anew and altered through processes of segmentation, intersection and legitimation. Furthermore, we propose five ideal types of social worlds reflecting the perspective of migrants. In addition, we indicate the transnational scope of social worlds and the importance of personal coping strategies. We emphasize the significance of the conflicts occurring in and between social worlds as part of processes of integration and highlight a number of strategies that make symbolic integration within the public sphere possible. Furthermore, we list central institutionalized cultural forms and social modes which have a decisive impact on interaction between migrants and the autochthonous population: categorization, stereotyping and drawing boundaries, negotiating, conflict and permanent reflection. Finally, we explain the specific contribution our approach offers to the current theoretical discussion in the field of migration studies and close with a summary of our arguments. To date, there has been little exchange between the sociology of knowledge and research on social integration. Neither have sociologists who adopt a knowledge-based perspective taken a great deal of notice of the issue of migration, nor have migration researchers made use of findings from the former field in their work. This state of affairs is remarkable, for each of these research areas stands to benefit from perspectives and thematic issues offered by the other. It is even more astonishing, considering that in perhaps the most well-known theoretical contribution to the sociology of knowledge by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, "The © ©2 20 00 05 5--2 20 00 08 8 Q Qu ua al li it ta at ti iv ve e S So oc ci io ol lo og gy y R Re ev vi ie ew w V Vo ol lu um me e I IV V I Is ss su ue e 2 2 w ww ww w. .q qu ua al li it ta at ti iv ve es so oc ci io ol lo og gy yr re ev vi ie ew w. .o or rg g 4 4 Social Construction of Knowledge", ("required reading" for students of sociology), the topic of integration is accorded a central role both conceptually and empirically. Contemporary theoretical discussions within the field of migration research (Hirschman, Kasinitz and DeWind 1999; International Migration Review Special Issue 2004 38 (3) ) have given little attention to interactionist approaches, that is, those which focus on interpersonal relationships. Although it is recognized that the interactionists of the Chicago School were the first to deal systematically with the consequences of migration in the "host country", their analytical perspective is currently largely ignored. One of the reasons for this limited reception may be seen in the persistent recurrence of a certain "micro-sociological naiveté", which maintains that the analysis of everyday processes of interaction and communication, primary concerns of studies within the sociology of knowledge, do not permit conclusions to be drawn regarding socio-structural phenomena, the reason that such approaches should supposedly be relegated to the domain of "micro-sociology". The sociology of knowledge itself has contributed to this misrepresentation by limiting its focus to issues of "intercultural communication". We will argue instead that an approach to the topic of migration from the said perspective must by no means be restricted to "micro-research". On the contrary, it offers a useful perspective for reconstructing socio-structural phenomena, as it has the capacity to reveal processes of social institutionalization. Veritably, we find the distinctions drawn between micro and macro, structure and interaction, as well as culture and society, which are still common in numerous debates in the social sciences, to be hardly productive. In the following, adopting perspectives from the sociology of knowledge, we will explore theoretical and conceptual options for a concept of social integration that can be applied to the conditions of modern pluralized societies. To do so, we begin by recalling some of the initial considerations of the sociology of knowledge (1). Taking our initial cues from the work of Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, we develop a differentiated understanding of integration as a continual process, which, moreover, is subject to characteristic forms of institutionalization. In our understanding of institutionalization processes we include the relatively stabile spheres of action, which we conceptualize, drawing on the work of Anselm Strauss, as social worlds. These worlds are constantly reproduced and changed by processes of legitimation, segmentation and intersection (2). We propose five ideal types of social worlds as they are constituted from the perspective of migrants (2.1). Furthermore, (2.2) we draw attention to the transnational scope of social worlds as well as personal coping strategies. We stress the significance of conflicts as they are carried out in and between social worlds (2.3) and proceed to highlight some strategies of public symbolic integration and problems they contain (2.4). We enumerate central institutional cultural forms and social modes which play a decisive part in the lifeworld processes of interaction between migrants and the autochthonous population: categorization, stereotyping, stylization and drawing boundaries, negotiation, conflict and permanent reflection. Finally, (3) we elucidate what we see as the specific contribution of our approach to the current theoretical debate in migration research and summarize our arguments. Knowledge, society and integration In their "Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge" Berger and Luckmann framed their new formulation of the sociology of knowledge as a form of general sociology by © ©2 20 00 05 5--2 20 00 08 8 Q Qu ua al li it ta at ti iv ve e S So oc ci io ol lo og gy y R Re ev vi ie ew w V Vo ol lu um me e I IV V I Is ss su ue e 2 2 w ww ww w. .q qu ua al li it ta at ti iv ve es so oc ci io ol lo og gy yr re ev vi ie ew w. .o or rg g 1 We find sociation to be the most fitting translation of Vergesellschaftung (Wolff 1950: lxiii; see Berking 2003). The frequently used translations "socialization" as well as "associative relationships" (Weber [1921] 1968: 40) are both misleading. © ©2 20 00 05 5--2 20 00 08 8 Q Qu ua al li it ta at ti iv ve e S So oc ci io ol lo og gy y R Re ev vi ie ew w V Vo ol lu um me e I IV V I Is ss su ue e 2 2 w ww ww w. .q qu ua al li it ta at ti iv ve es so oc ci io ol lo og gy yr re ev vi ie ew w. .o or rg g 1 19 9
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