From the beginning of the article:
In public image repertoires, young people of migrant background are mostly associated with problems. In the more positive versions they are seen as having problems: they are caught between two cultures and between two languages, fluent in neither and longing to return home. The negative versions see them as producing problems: they are prone to criminality, they reduce the standards of the schools they attend, and they keep to themselves and form gangs. Such common assumptions are also largely reflected in scholarly work on migrant youth. They are a problem that needs to be solved (Heitmeyer, Müller & Schröder 1997; 13. Shell Jugendstudie 2000).
What is significant for the common sense notion, as well as for much of the scholarly work done in Germany, is that migrant youth are seldom situated within the context in which they grow up. Therefore, one of the main goals of our research project on young people’s everyday lives in European cities, conducted simultaneously in London and Hamburg, was to look at the relationship between migrant and native youth. In the German part of the project (with which this article is concerned), our questions were deliberately broad: how do boys and girls of different ethnic and class backgrounds, from different neighbourhoods and in different European cities, negotiate their daily relationships? Under what conditions do they perceive each other as ethnic, male, female, rich, poor etc., and what meaning do these ascriptions take on in their relations to each other?