CONF: 35th Congress of the German Sociological Association (DGS). Bochum & Dortmund, Germany. 1.-5.10.12

35th Congress of the German Sociological Association (DGS)

Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum / TU Dortmund

1–5 October, 2012

Plenary Session

Life In-Between: Putting the Integration Paradigm to the Test

“Integration” is the topical issue of the hour as far as finding a solution to the social problems of heterogenic societies is concerned. On both a national and an international scale we permanently diagnose deficits in integration, identify refusals to integrate, and develop integration plans. Thus a basic sociological term becomes political, a term that has certainly not been uncontroversial in recent theories of society – from system-theoretical doubts about the plausibility of “dis-integration” diagnoses to post-structurally inspired criticism of the normalization effect of “integration” policy. The integration definition first took shape as both an analytical and normative concept in the social-theory concept of the Chicago School of Sociology. Here the metropolis appears as a diversity generator, held together by the opposing forms of interaction between competition and communication, which permits integration precisely in its ambivalence with regard to segregation. Robert E. Park recognizes in the figure of the marginal man the personalization of the dual principle of disembedding and cohesion, differentiation and
integration, all at the same time. As an urban immigrant, living in the border area between two cultures, in which he participates without really belonging to either of them, he embodies perfectly the modern status of a life “in-between”. On the one hand uprooted and disoriented, he simultaneously combines the insight of the initiated with the distanced view of the outsider, thus becoming, for Park, the bearer of civilizational transformation and modern subjectivity.

The plenum shall examine the social-analytical potential of the integration definition and analyze the political-sociological balancing act in which the current renaissance of the integration paradigm is taking place. In particular, we are looking for contributions,
· in which the productivity and precariousness of current forms of “life in the balance” are examined empirically,
· that question the contradictions and pitfalls of integration policies at both national and local level,
· that reflect on the impact of the city – as a very specific social-spatial form of society – on diversity and cohesion
· and finally those that pose the fundamental question(s) as to whether “integration” is needed at all – in whatever definition – as a sociological concept and a social-political normative.

We look forward to receiving abstracts with a maximum length of 500
words. Please send your suggestions by 31 March 2012 to Martin Kronauer ( and Heike Herrmann (

Stephan Lessenich (Jena – Social Policy Section)
Silke Steets (Darmstadt – Urban and Regional Sociology Section)

Martin Kronauer (Berlin)
Heike Herrmann (Fulda)
Silke Steets
TU Darmstadt