Paper: Advancing horizontal solidarity or long-term profit? The messy politics behind the German business sector response to refugee integration

Paper details

Paper authors Tanja Müller
In panel on Taking ideology out of humanitarianism? The everyday, corporate interests and the politics of global solidarity
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


In a global climate where refugees are increasingly seen as a threat to national security, the business sector has become a key actor at the forefront of engagement with refugee populations. A pertinent example is the case of Germany. When German chancellor Angela Merkel opened borders for refugees in the summer of 2015, many German companies regarded her move as a welcome way to overcome labour shortages and future demographic bottle-necks. In turn, business leaders became key actors in the development of integration policies. This paper discusses if business sector engagement with refugee integration in Germany through the Wir Zusammen [We Together] initiative has resulted in altered conceptions of citizenship as practiced in everyday encounters. Focusing on business engagement through providing apprenticeships or other work opportunities, the paper demonstrates that the business sector can indeed play an important role in transforming refugee lives more broadly, beyond labour market participation.