Patterns of religiosity among new Turkish and Polish immigrants in Germany

Claudia Diehl, University of Göttingen
Matthias Koenig, University of Göttingen

Immigrants' religious adaptation in Western European countries receives growing academic and societal attention but quantitative research on the topic is still in its infancy. This applies particularly to the question of what happens with immigrants’ religiosity immediately upon arrival.
We present initial findings from a new dataset on the socio-cultural integration of recent immigrants in Europe. In 2010/2011 about 7.000 migrants who had recently arrived in several European destination countries were surveyed as part of the DFG/NORFACE funded project “Causes and Consequences of Socio-Cultural Integration Processes among New Immigrants in Europe” (SCIP), a mini-panel study of selected migrant groups. In this paper, we draw upon data from the first survey wave in Germany conducted among 2.500 recent immigrants from Poland and Turkey, in order to describe and explain immigrants’ religious practices and identities during the earliest phase of integration.
In our analyses, we move beyond classical accounts of secularization and assimilation theory and test more differentiated hypotheses on new migrants’ religious adaptation patterns. Doing this, we address the dynamic and potentially “uprooting” phase in the integration process upfront and take into account differences in both groups’ religious background as well in the group specific opportunities for religious participation. First of all, we built on approaches emphasizing the traumatic and transitional experience of the migratory act in itself that may turn migration into a “theologizing” experience, especially for Turks who face greater cultural and social distances upon arrival. Independent on the impact of migration on migrants’ private religiosity, we expect, secondly, Poles to show higher levels of religious participation (as measured by worship attendance) upon arrival than Turks. Thirdly, we expect the relationship between ethnic and religious identifications to be positive for immigrants from Turkey but not necessarily for those from Poland.

Presented in Session 31: Immigrant religion and integration across Europe