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Turkish Muslims in a German city: Entrepreneurial and residential self-determination

Sarah Hackett


Drawing upon a collection of oral history interviews, this paper offers an insight into entrepreneurial and residential patterns and behaviour amongst Turkish Muslims in the German city of Bremen. The academic literature has traditionally argued that Turkish migrants in Germany have been pushed into self-employment, low-quality housing and segregated neighbourhoods as a result of discrimination, and poor employment and housing opportunities. Yet the interviews reveal the extent to which Bremen’s Turkish Muslims’ performances and experiences have overwhelmingly been the consequences of personal choices and ambitions. For many of the city’s Turkish Muslim entrepreneurs, self-employment had been a long-term objective, and they have succeeded in establishing and running their businesses in the manner they choose with regards to location and clientele, for example. Similarly, interviewees stressed the way in which they were able to shape their housing experiences by opting which districts of the city to live in and by purchasing property. On the whole, they perceive their entrepreneurial and residential practices as both consequences and mediums of success, integration and a loyalty to the city of Bremen. The findings are contextualised within the wider debate regarding the long-term legacy of Germany’s post-war guest-worker system and its position as a “country of immigration”.


Bremen; housing; oral history; self-employment; Turkish Muslims

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