The challenge of diversity through migration: the case of Saxony
Migration has severely changed the population structure and social fabric of many regions in Europe. Especially in recent years, many urban but also peripheral, rural regions in Europe experience increasing population diversity due to the inflow of labor migrants and refugees. Contrary to urban agglomerations, rural communities often have no experience with diversity, especially in the East German regions like Saxony, where migration during socialist times mainly occurred as highly segregated temporary labor migration. Considering the huge population losses due to internal migration after 1989/90, recent population gains through immigration should have positive connotations in East German peripheries, as they provide an opportunity to improve the age structure towards economically active age groups and recruit highly qualified labor force. But in a society that is not experienced in dealing with immigrants, there are many prejudices and fears concerning diversity. Currently those fears culminate in large demonstrations denouncing the islamisation of Europe. The proposed paper analyzes how the migrations of the past decades have changed the population structure of urban and rural regions in Saxony, showing how the international migrants contribute to the demographic stabilization and participate in the labor market. Using selected case studies, the problem of social acceptance and possibilities to overcome xenophobia are discussed. In the outlook, the paper will generalize its findings and unfould the interfaces between immigration, integration and social resistance in a regionalized perspective. The paper draws on statistical material and several case studies which the author carried out in different regions of Saxony.