Moving from Integration to Participation? Notes on the Interrelationship between Communal and Associative Relationships

  • Thomas Faist Bielefeld University
  • Christian Ulbricht Bielefeld University


There are current trends in public and academic debates which point toward a wish of some analysts and observers to “de-culturalize” debates on international migration. In German debates, it is the term “integration” which has an alleged culturalizing effect and which therefore should be avoided and discarded as a concept of practice and as a concept of theory. In contrast to these positions we argue that there is a fundamental nexus between communal relations (Vergemeinschaftung or integration) and sociation (Vergesellschaftung). It is only by relating communal relations and sociation that we can understand the logics of important institutions such as citizenship and welfare states. Analytical concepts such as Vergemeinschaftung and Vergesellschaftung are necessary because they help us to account for fundamental changes. We find that in recent decades the meaning of integration connected to nationhood in public debates has changed from an ethno-cultural understanding to a republican one which is simultaneously characterized by increasing demands upon individuals who are conceptualized as autonomous persons (individualization). 

Author Biographies

Thomas Faist, Bielefeld University

Thomas Faist is Professor for Sociology at the Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University. His fields of interest are transnational relations, migration, citizenship, social policy, and development. He is a member of the editorial boards of Ethnic and Racial Studies, Social Problems, African Human Mobility, Migration Letters, Transnational Social Review, South Asian Diaspora, Social Inclusion, and the Pakistan Journal of Social Issues. Books he recently co-authored and co-edited are Beyond a Border: The Causes and Consequences of Contemporary Immigration(2009); Diaspora and Transnationalism: Concepts, Theories and Methods (2010), Migration, Development, and Transnationalization: A Critical Stance  (2011),  Beyond Methodological Nationalism: Social Science Research Methodologies in Transition (2012), Transnational Migration (2013), Disentangling Migration and Climate Change (2013), and Environmental Migration and Social Inequalities (2016). His current research focuses on the transnational social question.

Christian Ulbricht, Bielefeld University

Christian Ulbricht is a scientific assistant at the Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University. His research interests include the sociology of citizenship and immigration and the sociology of evaluation and critique. In his current research he analyzes how liberal democratic nation states select their immigrants in a legitimate discourse and how affiliations are negotiated in public.


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