Research Expertise

  • biopolitics
  • theories of the state
  • feminist theory
  • relations of reproduction
  • family policy
  • intersectionality
  • migration
  • international history of women's movements
  • development policy
  • Latin America
  • human genetics
  • reproductive medicine

Demographization of the political? An intersectional analysis of German family and migration policies since the 1990s

Past Research Project

This DFG research project examines the increasing importance of demographic knowledge within German family and migration policies since the mid-1990s. The aim is to analyze the scope, elements and dynamics of a new population policy with special attention to the scientific arguments offered for it. The project focuses on the regulation of fertility and immigration as those elements of the new demographic policy which are debated and/or implemented in order to influence actively the size and composition of the national population. By integrating family and migration policies it becomes possible to develop an intersectional perspective on the current biopolitics of the population, without ignoring important differences between these policy fields and the role of demographic knowledge within them. The project employs the concept of demographization as a social studies of science concept which makes it possible to analyze scientific problematizations and strategic political solutions as intertwined elements of political rationalities.

In order to evaluate the scope of this concept for political science purposes, the project combines two different methodological approaches. In the first phase the project uses an inductive approach inspired by interpretative policy analysis. The project maps actors and institutions through time, and analyzes the discourses of demographic policy consultancy since the 1990s: first on the basis of documents from studies conducted within ministries, contract research and consulting think tanks, and second on the basis of qualitative interviews with key actors. The aim of this phase is to identify the range of prevailing demographic rationalities in both policy fields and how they have changed through time. In a second phase the project shifts to a more deductive state-theoretical perspective in order to reconstruct the integration of demographic rationalities within the hegemonic conflict constellations of the two policy fields.

The aim is to understand demographization as part of broader processes of hegemony building and to analyze the dynamics, and also the limits, of demographic rationalities within current German politics.  In the last phase the project uses the outcomes of the project in order to debate and to develop approaches to intersectionality within state theory. This phase aims to investigate which demographic concepts and statistical calculations are applied in order to select and categorize certain groups of the population, which strategies of government are debated and implemented with respect to these groups, and how categories of gender, class ethnicity/race/nationality within the two policy fields and across them intersect here.


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