Cultural Capital during Migration—A Multi-level Approach for the Empirical Analysis of the Labor Market Integration of Highly Skilled Migrants

  • Arnd-Michael Nohl Helmut Schmidt University/University of the Armed Forces Hamburg
  • Karin Schittenhelm Universität Siegen
  • Oliver Schmidtke University of Victoria
  • Anja Weiß Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Keywords: migration, cultural capital, status passage, highly qualified migrants, narrative interviews, documentary method, country comparison, labor market


The integration of highly qualified migrants into the labor market can be an opportunity for knowledge societies because their prosperity depends on the incorporation and improvement of cultural capital. In this paper we present a qualitative research approach with which we analyze on several levels how migrants make use of their cultural capital during their entry into the labor market: in addition to the biographical experience of migrants we analyze how this experience is embedded in milieus, social networks and self-organizations (meso-level) and structured by the macro-level of judicial regulations of immigration and labor market policies. Our empirical analysis is focused by the assumed importance of educational qualification and residence status during entry into the labor market. Four different groups of empirical cases, which differ with respect to the level of education, the place of its acquisition (at home or abroad) as well as to their residence status, are compared to each other. In order to study the contingencies of meso and macro-social contexts, labor-market integration will be examined in the context of Germany as well as in Canada, Great Britain and Turkey. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0603143


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Author Biographies

Arnd-Michael Nohl, Helmut Schmidt University/University of the Armed Forces Hamburg
Dr. Arnd-Michael NOHL is professor for education science at Helmut Schmidt University/University of the Armed Forces in Hamburg. His research interests are: migration research, systematic and intercultural pedagogy, methodology and qualitative research methods.
Karin Schittenhelm, Universität Siegen
Dr. Karin SCHITTENHELM is professor for sociology at the University of Siegen. Her fields of research are education and work during the life course, migration, sociology of culture, qualitative research methods.
Oliver Schmidtke, University of Victoria
Dr. Oliver SCHMIDTKE is associate professor at the University of Victoria (Canada). His fields of research are migration/ integration, citizenship, social inequality and identity politics.
Anja Weiß, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Dr. Anja WEISS is a sociologist at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. She is working on her Habilitation in the context of the DFG-Project "Hochqualifizierte Migrant/innen. Zur Transnationalisierung Sozialer Lagen" on transnational theories and social inequality. Her research interests are: social inequality, racism, ethnic conflict and migration.