Mediative migrant churches?

Interorganizational networking and civic potentials of Christian Korean communities



The pluralistic religious landscape of North Rhine-Westphalia is primarily the result of a long tradition of immigration to this region. Around 250 religious communities from Asia helped NRW develop into a metropolitan area of Eastern religions. Although they are still a minority, their presence in public space is becoming clearer. Although they are still a minority, their presence in public space is becoming more apparent as some 200 local branches of Eastern religions are already represented in NRW. Particularly Korean Christians have settled in NRW in large numbers. However, their migration history, the establishment of self-organization in communities and the resulting potential for members of civil society and beyond has been little explored. Religious organizations and their networks as well as ethnic communities have the function of providing informal and formal self-help for migrants. The dissertation project focuses on the relations of these communities to each other, on cooperation with local institutions, and their religious submission to the members. It will employ a recource-based approach. Whether acting strategically or following norms, the religious communities must be regarded as inseparable from their embedding in their environment. It is widely anticipated that Korean churches will change due to an escalating loss of members (e.g. as a result of migration, the advanced age of members, lack of youth) and develop new strategies in both the organization's leadership and its encouragement of religious objectives in order to continue to remain attractive to members. In particular, the design of youth work is becoming increasingly prominent.


Theoretical context

Both the inter-organizational networking strategies and the underlying religious/cultural aspects and associated structures of meaning will be examined. In this case, the history of migration and development of the clubs, internal strategies and regional contexts of the country of arrival must be considered. The main interest lies not in the functionality or dysfunctionality of migrant organizations but in the dynamics of organizations, the intra- and interorganizational reference to each other and changes of relationships. The theoretical framework of the research is constituted by a combination of network theory, relational sociology and organizational theories, which are then applied to a religious field. Through a relational-oriented, religious-sociological perspective, I will analyze religious and socio-ethical attitudes and their effects on the meso-level, as well as the embedding of religious communities in the alien cultural environment of the host region. This approach based on Fuhse/Vásquez theoretical model. In this manner, the Korean community will be analyzed in terms of its relational ties in the intra-and interorganizational field. The relational approach, which refrains from seeing entities as substantial, but rather perceives them and their capacity to act as situationally embedded and path-dependent, lends itself as a starting point.



In this qualitative empirical project, a methodological arrangement should help to gain new insight about recources and potentials of Korean Christian communities and their local embedding. Data acquisition rests on different instruments, participatory observation and participation in religious services, festivals, cultural events and informal discussions marking the beginning of the process. Religious and social ethics will be shown and put into relation with community service and the commitment of its members. Secondly, materials that are issued by the municipalities themselves or articles and their internet presence will be evaluated. Religious and social ethics settings will thus be shown, and the relationship with the community work and commitment of its members will be correlated. By combining this analysis with interviews, which are to be conducted with public representatives, an analysis of the external perception will be created. Through in-depth interviews with board members and dedicated individuals, I will provide information about the association's work and its origin, religious structures of meaning, collaboration with other communities (inter-regional and transnational) and contact with the public. Additionally, my approach should also yield information about the exchange and utilization of resources. Therefore, a complete profile of a selected community will be created.

Affiliated Persons


Dr. Sabrina Weiß

Individual Researcher