‘Weltoffenheit schafft Jobs’: Turkish entrepreneurship and multiculturalism in Berlin


This article investigates the connections between multiculturalism, unemployment and self–employment in the case of Berlin’s Turkish economy. It first describes five trends that are currently shaping German–Turks’ business activities: heterogeneity, hybridity, professionalism, internationalization and state interest. The consequences of these five trends are partly contradictory. On the one hand, they challenge the relevance of the ‘Turkish economy’ concept. On the other hand, they give an unprecedented respectability to the ‘Turkish economy’, thus popularizing this concept. The article argues that this contradiction should be interpreted as an outcome of the growing importance of multiculturalism in Germany’s relation to immigrants. Acknowledging the presence of immigrants has led to an emphasis on their high rate of self–employment, viewed as a possible solution to their unemployment and ‘integration’ problems. What emerges is the economic dimension of multiculturalism, i.e. an ideology that sees immigration and ethnic pluralism as economically positive. The article concludes by a critical analysis of this ideology.