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...)

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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 narratives 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, narratives of migration, narratives 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 (cf. 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 narrative, polyphony

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 (cf. 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 ‘ability to not understand,’ ethics of listening, multiperspectivity, perspective taking, recognition, polyphony

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



Polyphony is a musical metaphor which emphasizes similar, but not identical aspects of diversity as multiperspectivity. 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 narratives of migration (i.e. testimonials and life stories of migrants and refugees) are heard in debates on immigration and integration.

⇢ see also agency, diversity, multiperspectivity

Category: A, C

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

[CG / RS]


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].’” OECD countries and many high-income countries use a concept of relative poverty to define who a poor household or person is. If a household’s income is less than half the median income a country, it is considered to be relatively poor.

⇢ see also vulnerability

References and further reading:

Category: A

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