Getting Respect in Germany: How Immigrant Parents from Turkey Respond to Racism in Berlin Schools

Immigrants from Turkey have been subjects of racial stigmatization since their first arrival in Germany as guest workers in the 1960s. Turkish families are often portrayed as violent towards women and children in the media and discriminated against in the job market and the educational institutions (Korteweg and Yurdakul 2009). Funded by the German Center for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM), the project “Getting Respect in Germany: How Immigrant Parents from Turkey Respond to Racism in Berlin Schools” shows how the incidents of discrimination and stigmatization are experienced from the standpoint of immigrant parents from Turkey in Berlin. We were particularly drawn to the aspect of parenting while parents’ experiences with the German education system lent us two historical standpoints: One featuring participants situated as students in 80s and 90s Germany, and a second one in which the participants had become parents, and were interacting with schools once again in the 2010s and presently through their kids. By mainly focusing on the incident/response dynamic, our project centres on the following question:

1.How do immigrants from Turkey respond to discrimination and stigmatization in Berlin? 
2. What are the conditions of groupness and self-identification among middle-class immigrant parents from Turkey? 
3. How do they overcome material and symbolic boundaries? 
4. How parenting affects the way participants experience racism?

The question of middle-class identity appears very prominently in our work, particularly because we want to understand how the experience of racism is affected by professional and financial achievements. Ultimately, our project aims to unravel the multifaceted relations formed around racism and middle-class immigrant parents.


We conducted 16 in-depth structured interviews. Our interviews covered the parents’ experiences in 14 different private schools serving mostly elementary school and high school students. Later, we developed codes by using the coding manual of Michele Lamont’s Getting Respect (2016) and carefully code and analyze the interviews using MaxQDA qualitative software. The results of this study will be used to contribute to policy developments and for further comparative purposes (Germans, Jews, and Eastern Europeans in Germany).

Project lead

Prof. Dr. Gökce Yurdakul, Professor of Sociology, Head of Department of Social Sciences, Chair Diversity and Social Conflict, Humboldt-Universität Zu Berlin

Tunay Altay, PhD candidate, Diversity and Social Conflict, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Expert Consultant to the Project

Michele Lamont, Professor of Sociology and African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard University. The co-author of the book: Getting Respect: Responding to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel (Princeton University Press 2016).




09/2020 - 12/2020


Prof. Dr. Gökce Yurdakul

Prof. Dr. Gökce Yurdakul

Leiterin der Abteilung "Wissenschaftliche Grundfragen"; Professorin für Diversity and Social Conflict, HU Berlin

Tel: +49 (0)30 2093-1917
Fax: +49 (0)30 2093-4519

Dr. Özgür Özvatan

Dr. Özgür Özvatan

Stellvertretender Leiter der Abteilungen "Integrationsforschung und Gesellschaftspolitik" und "Wissenschaftliche Grundfragen zu Integration und Migration"

Tel: 030-2093-46027

Stefania Vittori

Stefania Vittori

Studentische Mitarbeiterin im Projekt "Getting Respect: How Turkish People* in Berlin Respond to Racism and Discrimination"

Tunay Altay

Tunay Altay

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeitende* im Projekt "Getting Respect in Germany: How Immigrant Parents from Turkey Respond to Racism in Berlin Schools"