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Transculturality and the Refugees in Germany (VI)

By  Brian Casey McDermott

Haaretz

5 Current Situation in Germany

The year 2015 was a huge year for the number of refugees arriving in Germany. Germany saw an influx of four times the amount of refugees compared with 2014 (Reuter, 2015).  The total amount of refugees was just over one million people (Reuter, 2015). Germany has become the second most popular immigration destination after the United States in the entire world and has become the target destination for the largest number of refugees arriving in Europe (Wisdorff, 2015). With this large influx of new people with different languages and cultural backgrounds the opinion of the local population is split. Some Germans are against the coming of the refugees due to various reasons including the perceived loss of jobs, the potential clash of their cultural norms with those of the refugees, and many of them wish for things to stay the way that they already are and do not want that to change with the emergence of these new people (Reuter, 2015). The German political parties in regards to this situation are split. The AFD (Alternative für Deutschland) has strictly stated that they are against the way refugees have been accepted in Germany and want very strict regulations on how to keep more from coming into their country (http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/afd-in-der-fluechtlingskrise-der-angstmacher-von-erfurt-a-1056367.html).

A more extreme example of wanting to keep refugees out of Germany would be when the group PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes), which has notoriously protested against refugees coming into Germany, publicly supported a mob that blocked a bus full of a group of refugees arriving in their town. There are also the news articles that talk about how the year 2015 was just the first wave of refugees and that the 2016 should bring many more. For example, an article which appeared in the Preussische Allgemeine Newspaer claimed that there would be a number closer to five times more, five million as compared to 2015’s number of about one million total refugees, who would be ”pouring” (”einströmen”) into Germany. Even the usage of such vocabulary shows the way in which such newspaper articles want to show the refugee situation as compared to flood or overwhelming force of people arriving into the country (http://www.preussischeallgemeine.de/nachrichten/artikel/kommen-2016-fuenf-millionen.html).

On the other hand some Germans are in favor of the arrival of the refugees and their potential integration into the mainstream German society and work-force. A good example of that would be The Green Party (die Grüne Partei). They argue that Germany needs to have less bureaucratic red tape in order to allow refugees easier access into German society and its economic system (https://www.gruene-bundestag.de/themen/integration.html).

They want to get rid of regulations that potentially withhold such things from the refugees in order to be able help the refugees get out of difficult and life threatening situations they were facing before their arrival in their home countries while helping their transition to be as smooth as possible into Germany’s society. They argue further that Germany will be able to make up for the record low birth rates that they as a country have been experiencing in past years and that these gaps (especially for the working class) will be able to be filled for the future through the help of the refugees and their potential offspring (Polke-Majewski, 2015). In the Süddeutsche Newspaper there is an article with eleven reasons that show why the arrival and integration of the refugees into German society will be a benefit for Germany in the long run (http://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/zuwanderung-elf-zahlen-die-zeigen-was-fluechtlinge-bringen-1.2623549).

 

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Contents

1 Introduction

2 Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

2.1 Welsch’s Critique of The Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

3 Interculturality and Multiculturality

3.1 Interculturality and Welsch’s Critique

3.2 Multiculturality and Welsch’s Critique

4 Transculturality         

5 Current Situation in Germany

6 Conclusion

Transculturality and the Refugees in Germany (V)

By  Brian Casey McDermott

4 Transculturality

 

According to Welsch, from the macro- (in terms of large scale groups of people and societies) to the micro-level (in terms of the small scale and individuals) the best way to understand how culture works is transculturally which means it transcends and goes beyond classical cultural boundaries. Nowadays cultures intermix, mingle, and flow in and out of each other which establishes the main characteristics of cultures in the modern world, thus cultures are influencing, developing, and changing in a constant and free moving way all the time and have always been going through this process. This concept of how cultures work in regards to transculturality is the most advantageous perception out of any of the concepts on how cultures function because the concept of transculturality covers global and local aspects along with universalistic and particularistic aspects as well, thereby transcending the polarized alternatives of globalization (in terms of uniformization) and particularism (cultural identity/exclusivity for a certain group of people) by allowing both to be combined and expounded upon one another. Transculturality has been discussed a great deal in this paper in regards to understanding how culture works on a grand scale (macro-level) but it is also very valid when considering things on an individual scale (micro-level). In regards to the micro-level aspect Welsch shares an example about how different writers of today express that they themselves have been molded and influenced not only by their homeland but from a plethora of various countries in regards to their own literary writing. He emphasizes that even on the individual level that our own personal cultural formation is transcultural and that in the future the new and rising generations will be even more so. He goes on further to give a warning that cultural identity and national identity should not be equated with one another and that the two terms should be strictly separated. He explains further how the formation of our own cultural formation is one of our basic rights and should be dealt with and sought after as such. The brining together and connecting of various transcultural components as individuals are what enables us to become better and more competent individuals pointing to the fact that we are taking the best characteristics and habits of each culture thus developing us into cultural hybrids.

 

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Contents

1 Introduction

2 Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

2.1 Welsch’s Critique of The Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

3 Interculturality and Multiculturality

3.1 Interculturality and Welsch’s Critique

3.2 Multiculturality and Welsch’s Critique

4 Transculturality         

5 Current Situation in Germany

6 Conclusion

Transculturality and the Refugees in Germany (VII)

By  Brian Casey McDermott

6 Conclusion

 

Those within Germany that are against the incoming of refugees due to the perceived idea that their current culture and way of life would be ruined and or tainted are adhering to the concept and idea of single cultures in many ways. They believe in the old idea that all Germans within the current culture in Germany are a certain and specific way with everything being homogenous such as their culture, language, and even their characteristics as a people as a whole and they use these ideas as arguments for justifying their actions of not wanting their culture to be tainted by those of other nations and backgrounds moving into and starting lives in their country. Firstly this rejects the idea that there truly are very different heterogeneous cultures and sub cultures within Germany itself that adhere to other sets of norms and ways of thinking be it in regards to vertical or horizontal divisions within the culture as mentioned previously in chapter 2.1. The traditional perception that their culture and other cultures function as cultural homogenous spheres or islands leads to them being very xenophobic or being afraid and wary of any “outside” cultures where these different cultures, in their eyes, are completely different from their own and if these different cultural spheres or islands were to collide with their own cultural sphere or island that it would cause problems and cause the makeup and characteristics of their homogenous society to be tainted or ruined. A good and extreme example of that would be the hitherto mention of the anti-immigration group, PEGIDA.

According to Geert Hofstede, a Dutch sociologist, Germany ranks very high on their level of Uncertainty Avoidance or the fear of something different from what they consider to be the norms of their German society (Hofstede, 2001). Uncertainty Avoidance can be defined as “the extent to which people within a society feel threatened by ambiguity and try to avoid ambiguous situations by providing greater predictability through social norms” (Hofstede, 2001). It can be easier understood as when certain cultures have embedded, uncomfortable feelings for the unexpected and reliance and need for an organized social formality to feel stable and minimize stress. On Hofstede’s scale, Germany ranks 65 indicating moderate to high (Hofstede, 2001). According to Hofstede, Germans are very risk-adverse, viewing taking risks as irrational and a set back from productivity. Germany’s moderately high uncertainty avoidance, protocol, and frustration with deviation from social norms could possibly be a leading reason why the new groups of refugees entering their country could pose a risk to the way they have been used to doing things in the eyes of the Germans who oppose their entrance into Germany. When one considers the changes and mixing of different cultures, languages, and cultures that what is today considered as Germany and its people (folk) even in the most basic terms is it clear that it never was a single culture or a homogenous society. With considering the history of what is known today as “Germany” with all its different intermixing of different tribes and peoples each with their own languages, cultural norms, and backgrounds along with the rule of various and always changing governing powers (it was the home of the Celtic tribes for several centuries before Christ and around the time of Christ it was conquered and became part of the Roman Empire for over 200 years) it is clear that Germany was not always the way it is today (Green, 2000). Thinking about the influences of the Celts, Romans, and the various Germanic tribes who controlled the southwestern part of Germany for such a long number of years as well as the mixing and intermingling of their culture with other countries near and far the idea that the current culture in Germany is how it has always been is not valid. It has always been a place where different cultures have flown through and mixed with each other for centuries.  Through these examples one can see that Germany is and always has been a transcultural space and can only benefit from allowing their culture to continue its natural process of being changed developed further with the cultures of the incoming refugees and others in order to create an even more advantageous and hybrid culture.

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Contents

1 Introduction

2 Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

2.1 Welsch’s Critique of The Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

3 Interculturality and Multiculturality

3.1 Interculturality and Welsch’s Critique

3.2 Multiculturality and Welsch’s Critique

4 Transculturality         

5 Current Situation in Germany

6 Conclusion

Transculturality and the Refugees in Germany (IV)

By  Brian Casey McDermott

3 Interculturality and Multiculturality

Welsch continues on to say in his essay that the newer concepts of interculturality and multiculturality are nearly as dissatisfactory and unproductive as the classical concept since they conceptually presume it. Both concepts will be briefly viewed and considered in connection with Welsch’s essay.

3.1 Interculturality

The perceived idea from the concept of interculturality is that each cultural is represented as its own sphere or island which leads to the idea that they can only inevitably collide with other cultural spheres or islands creating cultural racism and other hostile and negative effects. It tries for all intents and purposes to find a way of interaction between cultures in spite of this collision. It cannot, however, provide any valid solution since the separate sphere or island idea induces intercultural communication problems in the first place. Along these lines it doesn’t get to the root of the problem in order to solve it.

3.2 Multiculturality 

The concept of multiculturality searches for a solution to the problems which appear between different cultures that exist within one single society. Its aim is to encourage tolerance and understanding between these different cultures and thrives for opportunities where conflicts can either be avoided or handled in a productive way. However, because this concept is also based on the assumption that cultures are their own homogenous spheres or islands that will eventually collide with one another it shows that multiculturality can neither accomplish a mutual understanding between the various cultures nor a transgression of separating barriers. By taking up the classic understanding of culture which underlies today’s phenomena of separation and ghettoization, the concept of multiculturality threatens to give rise to regressive tendencies. The image of cultures as solitary spheres or islands no longer applies today and both newer concepts of interculturality and multiculturality still adhere to this old perception.

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Contents

1 Introduction

2 Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

2.1 Welsch’s Critique of The Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

3 Interculturality and Multiculturality

3.1 Interculturality and Welsch’s Critique

3.2 Multiculturality and Welsch’s Critique

4 Transculturality         

5 Current Situation in Germany

6 Conclusion

Transculturality and the Refugees in Germany (III)

By  Brian Casey McDermott

bislang-keine-klagewelle-an-sozialgerichten-durch-fluechtlinge

Welt.de

2.1 Welsch’s Critique of The Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

Welsch goes on further to say how these concepts are not feasible in today’s world. He attests that this is the old way of thinking and that it is fallible and archaic in the way cultures really work. With this concept the main idea is to make everything within the culture even more homogenous while rejecting and resisting other foreign and strange cultures along with different and outside influences. As Welsch mentions, within any given culture there are subcultures and alternative groups that although they may have the same history and language as those around them that their views, ideas, and values are completely different and do not adhere to the perceived norms and homogenous characteristics and regularities. He illustrates how modern societies are heterogeneous and multifaceted within themselves. They are characterized by vertical differences in regards to a society’s alternative scene or an individual’s level of income which determines the type of area they live in, i.e. in a working-quarter or in a well-to-do residential district and describes how such different scenes hardly exhibit any profound similarities. He also talks about horizontal divisions which include such factors as the gender or sexual orientation of the individuals who live within that society. The inner complexity of modern cultures and their heterogeneity are exhibited through such examples. Furthermore he states how the concept of ethnic consolidation and the idea of folk-bound ideologies exhibit political danger and stresses how cultures are not (and were not in the past) ever completely isolated or have been able to avoid contact with any other differing influences and environments. Considering intercultural delimitation he talks about how the goal of complete assimilation and uniformity within one’s own culture can produce feelings of contempt and hatred towards other cultures and anything that is foreign or different from what is considered to be the norm.

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Contents

1 Introduction

2 Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

2.1 Welsch’s Critique of The Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

3 Interculturality and Multiculturality

3.1 Interculturality and Welsch’s Critique

3.2 Multiculturality and Welsch’s Critique

4 Transculturality         

5 Current Situation in Germany

6 Conclusion

Transculturality and the Refugees in Germany (II)

By  Brian Casey McDermott

 

2 Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

 

According to Welsch there are three main elements in regards to the traditional concept of single cultures i.e. social homogenization, ethnic consolidation, and intercultural delimitation. Social homogenization is the idea that a certain culture is supposed to embody and shape its members in a way that makes them a distinctive part of itself. Secondly, in regards to ethnic consolidation, he states that in the concept of single cultures that a specific culture is to be understood as the “culture of a specific folk” which can be interpreted that the specific attributes of a specific group of people or a “folk”, as he refers to it, has its own homogeneity without varying characteristics in regards to its individuals. Thirdly, with reference to intercultural delimination, he states how this specific culture should have constraints against other outside cultures i.e. should stay away from and not mix or mingle with them as not to taint their particular culture (this specific culture needs to stay separate from other cultures).

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Contents

1 Introduction

2 Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

2.1 Welsch’s Critique of The Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

3 Interculturality and Multiculturality

3.1 Interculturality and Welsch’s Critique

3.2 Multiculturality and Welsch’s Critique

4 Transculturality         

5 Current Situation in Germany

6 Conclusion

Transculturality and the Refugees in Germany (I)

By  Brian Casey McDermott

grafikflucht_europa_01

Taz.de

 

1 Introduction

This paper was written for the course entitled: Der Jakobsweg als transkultureller Raum. Galicien am Ende des Pilgerweges at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg in Heidelberg, Germany. The famous Christian pilgrimage trail, The Way of Saint James, with its many routes throughout Europe which eventually come together to form some of the main trails which lead to Galicia’s capital, Santiago de Compostela, (in the northwestern part of Spain) is said to be where the remains of Saint James are buried. The history of this pilgrimage trail and its destination in Galicia were used as some of the main themes of the course as great examples of being historically rich transcultural spaces. This current paper will first focus on an essay that was used as a basis of the course written by the German philosopher Wolfgang Welsch specifically about transculturality entitled: “Transculturality – the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today after which the themes from his essay will be brought in connection with the current situation with the influx of refugees that arrived in Germany in the year 2015. In his essay Welsch describes the concept of transculturality which, according to him, is the most appropriate conception for defining cultures today. In order to portray his ideas he opposes the traditional concept of single cultures and even the more recent concepts of interculturality and multiculturality. There are many countries and places that could be explored and talked about in connection with this very large topic but this short and global paper’s focus will mainly be on Germany and its current situation in regards to the concept of transculturality. In the following paper the term “refugee” along with the definition of “society” in general will be given in order to give clarity to what will be discussed in the content of this paper.

The term “refugee” must be established so that the topics and themes of this paper are clear. According to the Miriam-Webster’s dictionary a refugee is understood as:

 “One that flees; especially:  a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution.” (Meriam-Weberst’s Dictionary: 2015: Web)

As mentioned in the dictionary a refugee is anyone who is getting away from their native country to escape persecution and most specifically someone who is fleeing to escape a situation when their life is at risk.

The term society will also be given in order to show what the perspective of this paper is in regards to this topic. According to the Miriam Webster’s dictionary a society can be understood as:

“An enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another.” (Meriam-Weberst’s Dictionary: 2015: Web)

The University of Cambridge, further, gives the definition for a society as:

“A ​largegroup of ​people who ​live together in an ​organized way, making ​decisions about how to do things and ​sharing the ​work that ​needs to be done. All the people in a country, or in several similarcountries, can be referred to as a society.” (The University of Cambridge Dictionary: 2015: Web)

Now that the some of the main definitions of the terms that will be discussed in this paper have been given and the basic idea and structure of the paper have been laid out the central ideas and concepts given by Welsch will be discussed.

 

Contents

1 Introduction

2 Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

2.1 Welsch’s Critique of The Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

3 Interculturality and Multiculturality

3.1 Interculturality and Welsch’s Critique

3.2 Multiculturality and Welsch’s Critique

4 Transculturality         

5 Current Situation in Germany

6 Conclusion

Transculturality and the Refugees in Germany

By  Brian Casey McDermott

 

1026945906

Sputnik International

 

Contents

1 Introduction

2 Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

2.1 Welsch’s Critique of The Traditional Concept of Single Cultures

3 Interculturality and Multiculturality

3.1 Interculturality and Welsch’s Critique

3.2 Multiculturality and Welsch’s Critique

4 Transculturality         

5 Current Situation in Germany

6 Conclusion