Primary Research Interest

My current research project is looking at refugee resettlement programs, particularly in Germany and Sweden, seeing what they entail, how “successful” they were/are, and determining if they could be applied elsewhere. One guiding question is how applicable are small-scale programs to a larger implementation? Another guiding question will be: is there anything that can be done to mitigate the resentment towards migrants and refugees that seems always to follow them?

One aspect that requires additional detail and attention is what I define as “successful.” Another issue is the timeframe I look at as well as the countries I focus on, particularly because recently Germany and Sweden have seen a revival of Neo-Nazis and anti-immigrant sentiment following their relatively welcoming immigrant stance and the influx of Middle Eastern refugees. There has been a growing presence of far-right, anti-immigrant political groups in both Sweden (Swedish Democrats) and Germany (Alternative for Germany, “AfD”). For the upcoming Swedish elections, the Swedish Democrats are getting high support numbers in the polls, about 1/4 of the nation[1], and were they to receive these votes in the next elections they would become the second largest political group in the Swedish Parliament.  In Germany, there is also a rise in the popularity of the anti-immigrant, fascist-leaning AfD party, which is now the third largest party in the Bundestag and Germany[2]. Especially in the eastern districts of Germany is this anti-immigrant sentiment most strongly seen. For example, in the past week there have been several anti-immigrant, pro-white Germany protests, and more are planned for this weekend, in Chemnitz following the stabbing of a German man[3]. These growing hostile feelings towards anyone deemed “unfit” for a nation present a severe issue for refugees everywhere and are just one of the many problems facing my research towards immigrant programs.




3 thoughts on “Primary Research Interest”

  1. Hey Pheobe, this is an interesting topic! I agree that defining “successful” is going to be an important aspect when developing your research. What came to mind when I read this is that generalized terms can be applied in research as quantifiable measurements with the right parameters set. The measurement of success could be a part of the operationalization of your dependent and independent variables as described in the Kellstedt and Whitten reading. Should you go down this route for your research, in what ways will you categorize success that also contextualizes the anti-immigrant sentiments you mentioned in your post? Will you contextualize these sentiments?

  2. Hey Phoebe! I think the extremely current nature of this research topic is going to make your research process very exciting, but potentially frustrating as the information may be changing rapidly and difficult to nail down. Your choice of Sweden and Germany to focus on due to their current political situations is fascinating and I might even encourage you to expand some of your preliminary research to see what you can find on similar movements in neighboring European countries before committing to just those two, as I know there are parallels throughout Europe at the moment. Finally, this is entirely biased, but I spent spring break last semester in Belgium doing research on migrant resettlement and learned about some really unique programs they have there that might be interesting to compare to Germany and Sweden, especially considering their shared EU status. Also, if you would be interested, I can definitely point you toward resources/professors that helped me with that research that could potentially help you too!

  3. You are off to a good start here, Phoebe, with some good thoughts on the potential directions that your research could take. The general puzzle that you have is a promising one. As you note, thinking about ways to operationalize the concept of “success” will be central to your proposed research.

    At this stage, I would encourage you to keep reading and thinking about the general puzzle (reading scholarship, in particular) to start to identify the debates among scholars (debates about what we understand / what we don’t understand) in order to further develop the puzzle. I would also caution against becoming committed to any particular strategy just yet (for instance, there is no reason why Sweden and Germany automatically make for the most appropriate cases for comparison). Keep thinking about how you would research the *general* puzzle that motivates you from a variety of methodological perspectives (after all, this is in fact what you will have to do this term!). Finally, as you keep reading and thinking, work towards identifying explanatory research questions (“why…?” “what explains…?”) questions. The “how” and “is” questions that you note here are good background research questions (questions that you can answer now to identify that deeper explanatory puzzle) but ultimately you are working towards a good “why…?” or “what explains…?” question that points to something that you want to explain. I look forward to seeing how the research develops!

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