Sinus Migrant Milieus®

The Sinus Migrant Milieus are a means of segmenting and describing the diversity of migrant lifeworlds in Germany

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In 2008, SINUS broke new ground by examining the lifeworlds and lifestyles of German residents from migrant backgrounds, with special attention to how living in Germany has affected these factors. We based our research on the Sinus-Milieus approach, which enabled us to gain unadulterated insights into the everyday lifeworlds of migrants and their basic values, goals, desire, and expectations.

Our key finding was that just as there are identifiable groups of people across national borders who share basic values and lifestyle characteristics, there are also groups of like-minded people among migrants originating from different countries. These milieus differ less in terms of ethnic origin and status than in terms of their values, lifestyles, and aesthetic preferences. It is impossible to deduce a person’s milieu – nor, it follows, their patterns of thought and action – from their culture of origin alone.

The Sinus Migrant Milieu studies have been the focus of much attention in both the scientific community and the mainstream media, as it draws a highly differentiated picture of migrant-background German residents and dispels many common clichés. For instance, the studies reveal that:

  • The influence of religious traditions among migrants is often overestimated.
  • Willingness to achieve and climb the social ladder is far more defined among the migrant population than among the indigenous population.
  • The degree to which migrants have adapted and their status at the centre of society are often underestimated.
  • A lack of social integration and participation is most evident among low status migrants – a pattern that holds for the indigenous German population as well.