“Welcome culture”: The emergence and transformation of a public debate on migration


  • Florian Trauner Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
  • Jocelyn Turton College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium




This article investigates the emergence and transformation of a debate on “welcome culture”. This concept has developed as part of a wider effort by the German government since 2005 to improve perceptions of immigration. In autumn 2015, the term entered mainstream public discourse when it became a point of reference for political, societal and media actors. These groups sought to promote a pro-refugee policy for humanitarian or economic reasons, or simply out of pragmatism. Eventually, right-wing actors began to dominate the discourse in order to undermine the pro-refugee camp and approach. The discussion therefore reflects the struggles to define whether Germany and Austria are countries of immigration, or should even aspire to this title.