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Abstract

In the last two decades, the topic of migration has gained importance for society as a whole, for science, and especially for sociology.¹ Although Germany was in fact predominantly an immigration country throughout the 20th century, it was not until the turn of the 21st century that this was accepted in Germany’s self-perception. This is also reflected in the sociology of migration. In addition to an increase in publications, there have been changes to its subject matter and paradigmatic frameworks. In comparison to classical immigration countries, the developments outlined can be interpreted as a “catch-up normalization” of self-perceptions and scientific concepts. In the following discussion, I focus on international migration; the broad, theoretically and empirically exacting field of integration research is considered only in passing, as are questions of domestic migration, “ethnic minorities,” and racism. German-language scientific publications from the 2000s onwards and monographs published as early as the 1990s are taken into account, insofar as they were discussed in Soziologische Revue from 2000 onwards. For reasons of space, individual studies that were discussed in the aforementioned reviews of Soziologische Revue are not usually cited. Europe is of particular interest with regard to migration. In no other region of the world more than half a billion people can move,work, and settle freely across national borders. The various major refugee and migration movements after the Second World War, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as a consequence of the wars in Yugoslavia, and more recently in the context of the wars in Iraq and Syria also make Europe one of the most interesting laboratories for migration research. The German-language sociology of migration has enormous potential in the European context. In order to understand the transition to the 21st century as the fundamental turning point it in fact is, the following section begins by outlining the initial situation up to the end of the 20th century. I then present the development of important topics in the 21st century.

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