Networked Diversity and the Development of the 'Frankfurt Model': Institutional responses to multiculturalism in the work of the Amt für multikulturelle Angelegenheiten

Joanna Cagney

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Since the late 1980s, the local state in Frankfurt am Main in Germany has developed a distinctive and influential approach to the urban politics of migration and cultural difference. With the ability to build and coordinate elaborate networks, it cuts across the interests of the city’s super-diverse population. An early attempt to consolidate the work as a ‘Frankfurt model’ had limited success, yet the development of this model and how it might be adapted for the present-day is a central focus of this thesis, which uses the case study of Frankfurt to address broader debates about the status of multiculturalism and diversity policy in Western European societies.

The thesis draws upon substantial embedded participatory and qualitative research in one of the main institutional components of the Frankfurt approach: the Amt für multikulturelle Angelegenheiten (Office of Multicultural Affairs / AmkA). The opening chapters outline the framework of networked diversity in response to Frankfurt’s super-diversity. These sections underpin the thesis in the context of more traditional debates about multiculturalism, migration and diversity management in Western Europe, focusing particularly on different national policy frameworks. The thesis then presents the distinctive characteristics of Frankfurt, possibly the most culturally diverse city in modern Germany. The history of the ‘Frankfurt model’ is then examined, with a focused analysis of the ‘Frankfurt Integration and Diversity Concept’ adopted in 2010. Three chapters based on intensive fieldwork explore: first, the everyday operation of diversity policy within AmkA; second, the interaction between the local state (AmkA) and civil society organisations; and third, the role of special events and symbolic politics in AmkA’s work.

Through an assessment of AmkA’s success in operationalising networked diversity as a response to super-diversity, together with its implications for a re-thought ‘Frankfurt model’ in the light of recent political developments in Germany and beyond, the thesis contributes to wider conceptual debates about the supposed failure of multiculturalism as an institutional response. The thesis also makes a distinctive methodological contribution through its reflections on qualitative research in translation.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
Award date29 Jun 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016

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