The Everyday Life Experiences and Coping Processes of Highly Skilled Immigrants in GermanyFatma Güzin Ağca Varoğlu
Negative attitudes against migrants of Turkish origin in Germany strain relations within society and constitute the underlying reasons for the increase of everyday discrimination. Migration due to academic concerns makes up one of the many migration waves between Turkey and Germany. In this study semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 participants, who were considered as highly skilled immigrants both due to their migration for postgraduate studies and their possession of a particular social-cultural capital, evaluating their everyday experiences and coping processes in this regard using the content analysis from a range of qualitative research methods. PhD students differ with their specific purposes and conditions of migration from other migrant generations representing the largest minority in Germany. Yet, despite this distinction, their everyday experiences and stereotypes show similarities with the members of the minority society. However, they differentiate from their respective minority group with regard to their coping processes. The main questions this article deals with are the experiences of these actors, the tactics they have developed through their perceived stereotypes and the process of belonging that is manifested in this regard.
Almanya’da Yüksek Nitelikli Göçmenlerin Gündelik Hayat Deneyimleri ve Baş Etme SüreçleriFatma Güzin Ağca Varoğlu
Almanya’da Türkiye kökenli göçmenlere yönelik olumsuz tutumlar, toplumda kurulan ilişkileri zedelemekte ve yükselen gündelik hayat ayrımcılığının temelini teşkil etmektedir. Türkiye-Almanya arası göç dalgalarından birini de akademik kaygılarla göç eden doktora öğrencileri oluşturmaktadır. Çalışma kapsamında, Berlin’e doktora eğitimleri için gitmiş ve sahip oldukları sosyal-kültürel sermaye ile yüksek nitelikli göçmen statüsünde kabul edilebilecek 10 katılımcı ile yarı yapılandırılmış mülakat yapılarak, öğrencilerin gündelik hayat deneyimleri ve bu doğrultuda geçirdikleri baş etme süreçleri nitel araştırma yöntemlerinden içerik analizi ile değerlendirilmiştir. Bu doktora öğrencileri, kendilerine özgü göç amaç ve koşulları ile Almanya’nın en büyük azınlığını oluşturan diğer göçmen kuşaklardan farklılaşmaktadırlar. Bütün bu farklılaşmaya rağmen gündelik hayat deneyimlerinin, algıladıkları kalıp yargıların azınlık toplumunun üyeleri ile benzerlikler gösterdiği gözlemlenmektedir. Öte yandan baş etme süreçleri göz önüne alınırsa onlardan ayrışmaktadırlar. Bu aktörlerin deneyimleri, algıladıkları kalıp yargılarla geliştirdikleri taktikleri ve bu bağlamda kendisini gösteren aidiyet süreçleri makalenin ana sorunsalını oluşturmaktadır.
The primary purpose of the study is to research the tactical attributes adopted by PhD students due to their negative everyday life experiences in Germany and their connection with the belonging processes using Tajfel & Turner’s Social Identity Theory and De Certeau’s tactic conceptualization. In this context, the outcomes of the article are categorized under two topics, namely everyday life experiences, and coping processes. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 students who were asked questions about their intergroup relations, stereotypes, and their developed coping processes in this regard. The study intends to shed light on group interactions of highly skilled Turkish immigrants in their everyday lives, who are barely paid attention to in migration studies in Germany.
Within the scope of the research, the participants were asked to list attributes which they thought members of the majority society would express about Turkish minorities. In this context, the students’ perceived stereotypes suggest that the generations of Turkish origin in Germany are conservative, aggressive, and patriarchal. The students also felt to a high degree the same negative image towards themselves as about migrant generations in Germany in their own experiences. Having migrated solely for educational purposes and unaware of such dominant stereotypes in Germany, these students expressed a great disappointment and shock due to the negative image that was being attributed to them.
Participants also noted that they had difficulties in several milestones of everyday life such as extending their residence permits, finding houses and socialization due to discriminatory behaviours. It is obvious that such experiences resulting in changes in the belonging process led the students to experience a psychologically negative well-being, a situation I designate here as the Clark-Kent-Syndrome. The Clark-Kent-Syndrome is a concept designating the effects of discrediting special qualifications and socio-cultural capitals of skilled immigrants by the majority society. Although they migrated to Germany as “bright students“ and “persona grata”, they eventually weakened and failed to use their superpowers against stereotypes, just like Superman exposed to kryptonite. In particular, in the early days when they had a poor command of the German language, unlike any other ‘western’ international student, my interviewees, under the dense influence of negative stereotypes, took upon themselves the criticism over migrant generations avoiding learning German. In this context, a lack of language proficiency categorizes students into a low-status group, as a tool for labelling.
The students adopted certain tactics to overcome the negative experiences of their everyday lives. Participants observed a decrease in their negative experiences to the extent that they proved to fail to meet the stereotypes and think that they are able to reinstate, even partially, their high status with the tactics they had developed. Such tactics can be addressed under two topics, namely individual mobility and sub-grouping in association with the belonging processes.
The frequently uttered “you are an exeption” attitude towards the participants, has been taken up by them as a discourse. They emphasize their differences from other migrant generations through impression management in a performative way. They refer to Istanbul, a global city, or their ability to speak Turkish the Istanbul way as showing their socialization in Turkey, and choose to speak English to secure their presence as international students, and demonstrate their socio-cultural capitals to make their privileged position distinctive. Thus, they adopt sub-typification as a tactic to reinstate their positive distinctiveness. These are all examples of the individual mobility tactic, manifested by the emphasis on ‘I am distinct’.
In such conflict situations, where the in-group makes up a “lower status group”, students are neither identified with their in-groups nor are they assimilated by developing belongingness with an out-group. Instead, they internalize sub-typification that highlights in-group differences and choose sub-grouping. Accordingly, they opt to compare themselves with in-group members. At this point, a sort of “we”, i.e. the sub-group constituted of highly skilled immigrants, who came from and had a socialization processes in Turkey, emerges. In contrary to findings suggesting that German-Turks have developed tactics to become introverted, to gravitate to their own consumption, information and socialization environments, it has been revealed that the students in this research abstain from the aforementioned “immigrant” tactics with their own distinctive tactics. It is interesting that a specific tactic developed by an immigrant group is taken out of the range of application by other members of the same group, again in a tactical manner. This belonging-based tactic enables positive distinctiveness for students, while in their social environment, it gives rise to a kind of ambiguity based upon the level of acquaintance. The tactics that are repeatedly developed in line with dominant strategies in everyday interactions do not only manifest in successive processes but also in concurrent and intersecting cases and social environments.