Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)

All   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Perspective (first, second, third)

The concept of perspective is an important tool to understand the different approaches to reality and the different standpoints persons inhabit and develop. A simple, but deep reaching distinction of different perspectives is the suggestion to distinguish between first-person, second-person, and third-person perspectives (see Sedmak 2013): (a) the first-person perspective is the subjective perspective that is based on “knowledge by acquaintance” and that allows for statements in the first person singular; (b) the second-person perspective is the dynamic standpoint that emerges out of dialogical situations in an encounter with another person; (c) the third-person perspective is the outsider’s view on objects or situations that can claim impartiality and distance.

In the context of the OPPORTUNITIES project, the question of perspective is central to the distinction between stories of and narratives on migration (i.e., a first-person vs. third-person perspective or an inside vs. outside perspective); it is also a key element of the Cross Talk methodology, as Cross Talk events seek to establish a dialogue between migrants, citizens, and stakeholders, thus transforming first-person perspectives into second-person and ideally even new shared first-person perspectives (“my story becomes your story, which then becomes our story”).

⇢ see also Cross Talk, Stories of migrationNarratives on migration

References and further reading:

Sedmak, Clemens. 2013. “‘Sollen sie doch Kuchen essen’: Wissen von Armut.” In Armut und Wissen, edited by Helmut P. Gaisbauer, Elisabeth Kapferer, Andreas Koch, and Clemens Sedmak, 177–197. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien.

Category: A, B

Work Package: 2, 3, 5, 6, 7

[BBK / CS / FK]


Perspective taking

Perspective taking is the ability to understand another person by putting oneself in their shoes. There are two kinds of perspective taking: the imagine-self perspective and the imagine-other perspective. While the imagine-self perspective tends to induce egocentric behaviour, the imagine-other perspective can foster altruistic and selfless behaviour (Nünning 2014, 237). Migrant stories may stimulate their readers and listeners to try on the perspective of migrants and refugees, thus encouraging them to empathize with migrant and refugee experiences.

⇢ see also Empathy, Multiperspectivity, Migrant narrativePolyphony, Vicarious storytelling

References and further reading:

Nünning, Vera. 2014. Reading Fictions, Changing Minds: The Cognitive Value of Fiction. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter.

Category: B

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7



Political listening

The concept of political listening as proposed by Susan Bickford (1996) moves beyond notions of listening as a “caring or amicable practice” (3), acknowledging the conflictual and contentious character of politics (2). Such listening creates a riskiness, a riskiness that “comes partly from the possibility that what we hear will require change from us” (Bickford 1996, 149).

Political listening accepts this risk and the vulnerability that both speakers and listeners incur when “narratives of difference” are shared. Such a listening stance is not merely empathetic or tolerant, but it is also oriented towards taking action. When we listen in this sense, we recognize the other as a peer, as someone who has aspirations and ideas about a good life and well-being. We are open to hearing their story, arguments, and thoughts, and open to confronting these with our own story, thoughts, and arguments. Listening doesn’t erase differences in thoughts and views but involves a willingness to consider someone else’s ideas. This willingness is a starting point for political action.

⇢ see also Ethics of listening, Multiperspectivity, Perspective taking, RecognitionPolyphony

References and further reading:

Bickford, Susan. 1996. The Dissonance of Democracy: Listening, Conflict, and Citizenship. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Category: A, B

Work Package: 3, 6, 7



Politics of mobility

Responding to voices that define the twenty-first century as the age of migration (De Haas et al. 2020; Khanna 2020), mobilities scholars have recently called for the implementation of a politics of mobility in research on migration and transnational mobility (see Cresswell 2006, 2010; Sheller 2018, 2020). According to cultural geographer Tim Cresswell (2010), mobility is best construed as an interlacing of movement, representation, and practice, which varies over time and in different contexts: “At any one time,” he argues, “there are pervading constellations of mobility – particular patterns of movement, representations of movement, and ways of practicing movement that make sense together” (18; italics original). In Cresswell’s understanding, then, the physical reality of mobility is also encoded socially and culturally and concretely experienced (20). Thanks to this social and cultural embedment, constellations of mobility are “implicated in the production of power and relations of domination,” which, in turn, renders them political (20). The power relations underlying constellations of mobility are not restricted to the social, political, economic, and cultural spheres of the human world, though, but they also include the ecological sphere, thus involving the more-than-human world as well (Sheller 2018, 2020).

⇢ see also Anti-racism, Gender, Integration, Mobility studies, Narratives on migration, Race, Racism, Representation of migration, Stories of migration

References and further reading:

Cresswell, Tim. 2006. On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World. London and New York, NY: Routledge, 2006.

Cresswell, Tim. 2010. “Towards a Politics of Mobility.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 28.1: 17–31.

De Haas, Hein, Stephen Castles, and Mark J. Miller, eds. 2020. The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. 6th edition. New York, NY and London: The Guiford Press.

Khanna, Parag. 2020. Move: How Mass Migration Will Reshape the World and What It Means for You. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Sheller, Mimi. 2018. Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes. London and Brooklyn, NY: Verso.

Sheller, Mimi. 2021. Advanced Introduction to Mobilities. Cheltenham and Northhampton, MA: Edgar Elgar Publishing.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 4, 5




Polyphony is a musical metaphor which emphasizes similar, but not identical aspects of diversity as multiperspectivity. Russian philosopher and literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin (1981) introduced the metaphor to literary studies, in order to describe forms of narrative discourse that include a wide range of voices and perspectives in representations of fictional worlds. Without using the word, opera singer Placido Domingo, a prominent supporter of the “New Narrative for Europe” initiative by José Manuel Durão Barroso, then President of the European Commission, in 2013, transferred the musical idea of polyphony to his vision of Europe. Domingo compared Europe to a grand opera and symphony, or an orchestra and choir whose members have learned to “listen more carefully” and “adjust to each others’ voices.” The Cross Talk events of the OPPORTUNITIES project seek to introduce polyphony to discourses on migration by making sure that not only narratives on migration (i.e., accounts by politicians or other public figures), but also stories of migration (i.e., testimonials and life stories of migrants and refugees) are heard in debates on immigration and integration.

⇢ see also Agency, Cross Talk, Diversity, Multiperspectivity

References and further reading:

Bakhtin, Mikhail M. 1981. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M.M Bakhtin, edited by Michael Holquist. Trans. by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin, TX and London: University of Texas Press.

Barroso, José Manuel Durão. 2013. “A New Narrative for Europe.” European Commission. URL:

Domingo, Placido. 2013. “Plácido Domingo Delivers Message to New Narrative for Europe Debate.” Youtube. URL:

Category: A, C

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

[CG / RS]



Inspired by social psychology, positioning approaches in narrative analysis investigate the nexus between processes of identity formation and narrative practices in various relational contexts (Bamberg 1997, 2004; Depperman 2015). In putting emphasis on “storytelling as an interactive activity in contrast to stories or narratives as textual products” (Bamberg and Wipff 2021, 72), the notion of “narrative practices” foregrounds the question of how storytellers and their interlocutors position themselves in relation to one another. Michael Bamberg and Zachary Wipff (2021, 75–76) argue that the process of positioning takes place at three different levels: The level-of-interaction refers to the ways in which storytellers position themselves vis-à-vis their audiences; the level-of-character-construction relates to how narratives position characters in relation to one another within unfolding stories; and the level-of-self-construction addresses the question of how storytellers position themselves vis-à-vis their own selves.

Recent work on the ethical and political functions of narrative has adopted the positioning approach to discuss the uses and misuses of storytelling in political and societal contexts. Samuli Björninen et al. (2020), for example, discuss narrative positioning in political storytelling, including possible “dangers of narrative” (Mäkelä et al. 2021) as well as harmful effects of storytelling (see also Nünning and Nünning 2017; Presser 2018). These approaches prove particularly beneficial when it comes to analyzing how (non-)migrant storytellers position themselves vis-à-vis value-oriented and normative discourses as they share their personal stories of migration, engage in practices of vicarious storytelling, or frame migration by drawing on specific narratives on migration.

⇢ see also Integration, Frames of migration, Narratives on migration, Stories of migration, Vicarious storytelling

References and further reading:

Bamberg, Michael. 1997. “Positioning between Structure and Performance.” Journal of Narrative and Life History 7.1–4: 335–342.

Bamberg, Michael. 2004. “Positioning with Davie Hogan: Stories, Tellings, and Identities.” In Narrative Analysis: Studying the Development of Individuals in Society, edited by Colette Daiute and Cynthia Lightfoot, 135–157. London: Sage.

Bamberg, Michael, and Zachary Wipff. 2021. “Re-Considering Counter-Narratives.” In Routledge Handbook of Counter-Narratives, edited by Klarissa Lueg and Marianne Wolff Lundholt, 70–82. London and New York, NY: Routledge.

Björninen Samuli, Mari Hatavara, and Maria Mäkelä. 2020. „Narrative as Social Action: A Narratological Approach to Story, Discourse and Positioning in Political Storytelling.” Internatinal Journal of Social Research Methodoly 23.4: 437–449.

Depperman, Arnulf. 2015. “Positioning.” In The Handbook of Narrative Analysis, edited by Ana de Fina and Alexandra Georgakopoulou, 369–387. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

Mäkelä, Maria, Samuli Björninen, Laura Karttunen, Matias Nurminen, Juha Raipola, Tyttu Rantanen. 2021. “Dangers of Narrative: A Critical Approach to Narratives of Personal Experience in Contemporary Story Economy.” Narrative 29.2: 139–159.

Nünning, Ansgar, and Vera Nünning. 2017. “Stories as ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’: George W. Bush’s Narratives of Crisis as Paradigm Examples of Ways of World- and Conflict-Making (and Conflict-Solving?).” In Narrative(s) in Conflict, edited by Wolfgang Müller-Funk and Clemens Ruthner, 187–229. Berlin and Boston, MA: De Gruyter.

Presser, Lois: Inside Story: How Narratives Drive Mass Harm. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 4, 5, 6, 7




According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, poverty refers to “[t]he state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. Poverty is said to exist when people lack the means to satisfy their basic needs. In this context, the identification of poor people first requires a determination of what constitutes basic needs. These may be defined as narrowly as ‘those necessary for survival’ [this is considered a state of absolute poverty] or as broadly as ‘those reflecting the prevailing standard of living in the community [this is considered a state of relative poverty].’” In low and middle income countries it is the absolute level of poverty, expressed in per capita income or its purchasing power parity in US dollars (e.g., $2,15 per day, see World Bank 2023), which is used as an indicator of poverty. OECD countries and many high-income countries use a concept of relative poverty to define what or whom counts as a poor household or person. For example, if a household’s income is less than half the median income of a country, it is considered to be relatively poor.

Poverty statistics of the EU as well as academic studies of poverty among migrants (see, e.g., Eurostat 2022, European Anti-Poverty Network 2015, and Eroğlu 2022) show that discrimination against migrants and their unequal treatment in employment and access to and ownership of assets (e.g., land, capital, and housing) increase their risk of poverty and social exclusion, not only over the lifetime of migrants but also over that of their children. Urgent actions are needed to improve access to the labor market for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers; the integration of these groups into the labor market needs to be facilitated not only through voluntary/civil society (‘third sector’) and organizations, but also through more direct actions by state organizations at national and local levels (Bontenbal et al. 2023, Calò et al. 2022).

⇢ see also Politics of mobility, Vulnerability

References and further reading:

Bontenbal , Ilona, Francesca Calò, Tom Montgomery, and Simone Baglioni. 2023. “Rethinking the Role of Volunteering in the Labor Market Inclusion of Migrants.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 0: 1–20. DOI:

Calò, Francesca, Tom Montgomery, and Simone Baglioni. 2022. “Marginal Players? The Third Sector and Employability Services for Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the UK.” Voluntas 33: 872–885. DOI:

Eroğlu, Şebnem. 2022. Poverty and International Migration: A Multi-Site and Intergenerational Perspective. Bristol: Bristol University Press.

European Anti-Poverty Network. 2015. “Migrants in Europe’s Age of Austerity.” Brussels. [Report of the EAPN Task Force on Migration.] URL:​EAPN-2015-EAPN-migration-report-899.pdf.

Eurostat. 2022. “Migrant Integration Statistics – At Risk of Poverty and Social Exclusion.” Eurostat. URL:​statistics_-_at_risk_of_poverty_and_social_exclusion.

OECD. 2014. “The Measure of Poverty.” OECD Insights. URL:

The World Bank Group. 2021. “Poverty.” The World Bank. URL:

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8