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Measuring Diversity in Germany’s Public Administration Workforce: A qualitative Exploration of diverse Identities

Integration
Migration
Public Administration
Representation
Political Sociology
Qualitative
Annett Graefe-Geusch
German Institute for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM)
Ralf Wölfer
DeZIM Institute
Sabrina Zajak
German Institute for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM)
Annett Graefe-Geusch
German Institute for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM)

Abstract

Scientific definitions of diversity and how to measure and research them vary among scholars and schools of thought (e.g. Vertovec 2021, Hirschauer 2017). In Germany migration background is most often utilized as a de-facto measure for diversity despite critique on its efficacy to capture diversity in its various forms (Wölfer et al. in review). For the German national administration, not much data exists on the diversity in its workforce or the handling of diversity management in its work culture. First quantitative studies have started to fill this gap (Ette et.al. 2016, 2020), on the level of local administration others have also captured data on diversity quantitatively (Aikins et.al. 2018), adding ability, socio-economic status, age, sexual orientation, and religion to the measure of migration background. Qualitative studies have also so far only explored the context of local administrations (Lang 2020). However, mixed methods data that takes a comprehensive look at diversity in Germany’s national administration is currently missing. The project “Diversity in Germany’s National Administration” aims to fill this gap by combining qualitative and quantitative data examining one branch of Germany’s national administration. This paper will take a closer look at the methodological design of the study specifically focusing on how diversity is to be studied through qualitative methods. Specifically, we argue that in combination with quantitative measurements the use of two innovative items in addition to traditional interview questions in qualitative data collection is a useful methodological step to capture definitions of and attitudes towards various forms of diversity and discrimination. First, the qualitative design incorporates visual material. While the use of various forms of visual media has a long tradition in qualitative research (cf. Flick 2016:195), visual media to study diversity or experiences of discrimination are most common in studies with youth (cf. Dumangane 2020, Miller-Idriss & Graefe-Geusch 2019) situated in Anglo-American regions. However, the use of visual material may open new rooms for reflection, deepen discursive spaces and provide a concrete focus abstract topic (cf. ibid). Second, we employ vignettes in qualitative data collection. While the use of vignettes in quantitative data collection is common in Germany (cf. Schnurr 2003; Drouhot et.al. 2021) they are less common in qualitative data collection. They are also employed to provide room for the reconstruction of tacit knowledge in interviews (Schnurr 2003:393) and are thus an ideal tool to access attitudes towards diversity and discrimination. Using preliminary data from the interviews, this paper will show that both methodological additions to traditional qualitative interview questions can be gainfully used for exploring attitudes towards diversity and discrimination with public administration workers. Given the current demographic and social changes in Germany towards a more diverse population and more support for diversity within the population (Drouhot et.al. 2021) it is crucially important that German national public administration accommodate these trends in the way they act and reflect them in their employee pool. It is thus of utmost importance that we have reliable data on various forms of diversity within Germany. The methodologically innovative design of this study seeks to provide a first step towards this goal.