Embourgeoisement and Official Statistics. Implicit Class Conceptions of the Good Life in Statistical Measurements of Immigrant Integration in Germany

Martin Petzke, Bielefeld University

Over the last decades, German administrations on the federal, state, and municipal level have increasingly installed quantitative indicators of integration to monitor and more effectively govern the institutional incorporation of the migrant population. These statistical instruments define integration as the equalization of life chances while disavowing notions of cultural assimilation. The paper argues that these measurements nonetheless convey a tacit ideal of the good life. It is, however, not one that is rooted in a “national culture.” Rather, the compilation of statistical indicators implicitly universalizes the particular norms of a bourgeois culture, thus obscuring the class-cultural heterogeneity of the national mainstream. Drawing on secondary sources on the historical origins of social research, the paper argues that such normative implications can be traced back to the context of the inception of social statistics. Even today, statistical observations conducted and maintained by government officials are hardly “free-floating.” They are located in a social space of positions and position-takings and can thus be seen as over-determined by class-relations.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 151. Knowledge, Modernity and the Good Life