Competing contexts of reception in refugee and immigrant incorporation
Vietnamese in West and East Germany
Scholars have long recognised the importance of contexts of reception in shaping the integration of immigrants and refugees in a host society. Studies of refugees, in particular, have examined groups where the different dimensions of reception (government, labour market, and ethnic community) have been largely positive. How important is this merging of positive contexts across dimensions of reception?
We address this through a comparative study of Vietnamese refugees to West Germany beginning in 1979 and contract workers to East Germany beginning in 1980. These two migration streams converged when Germany reunified in 1990. Drawing on mixed qualitative methods, this paper offers a strategic case for understanding factors that shape the resettlement experiences of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants in Germany.
By comparing two migration streams from the same country of origin, but with different backgrounds and contexts of reception, we suggest that ethnic networks may, in time, offset the disadvantages of a negative government reception.