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Neoliberalism and the Economic Utility of Immigration: Media Perspectives of Germany's Immigration Law

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Germany's new immigration law, which took effect in 2005, was hotly debated over a period of four years. This paper follows the debate on the law through the newsprint media, examines the representation of immigration as an economic utility, and investigates the contents of this economic-utility perspective of immigration in light of neoliberal restructuring in Germany. The analysis focuses on 609 articles sampled from five major German daily newspapers published between July 2001 and August 2005. A discourse analysis suggests that the newsprint media represented immigration on the one hand as an economic necessity to replenish the labor market and ensure the international competitiveness of key industrial sectors. On the other hand, immigration was depicted as an economic liability that raises unemployment rates and burdens the public welfare system. Although the media emphasized the economic necessity of immigration, the final law does not permit any significant immigration of labor. The paper resolves this contradiction by situating media discourse in a wider context of neoliberal reforms and European Union expansion.

Keywords: Germany; economic utility; immigration; law; media; neoliberalism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada;, Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2008


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