Constructing a normative national identity: the Leitkultur debate in Germany 2000/2001

Manz, Stefan (2004). Constructing a normative national identity: the Leitkultur debate in Germany 2000/2001. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 25 (5-6), pp. 481-496.

Abstract

In recent years, public discourse about German national identity has increasingly focussed on the large foreign population within Germany's borders. Whilst right-wing politicians such as Edmund Stoiber foster fears of identity loss ('Überfremdung'), more liberal observers, and indeed the ruling red-green coalition, acknowledge that multiethnicity has by now become an integral part of this identity. The debate experienced its provisional climax in late 2000 and early 2001. Friedrich Merz, then parliamentary leader of the CDU party, introduced the term 'Leitkultur' into the political discourse. The notion suggests the existence of a clearly identifiable spectrum of German cultural values and proposes that foreigners who wished to live in Germany should adhere to these values. Merz's proposal triggered a wave of highly controversial comments which have been evaluated for the purpose of this paper. It draws on roughly 350 newspaper articles and interviews and aims to introduce the English-speaking reader to the complex range of arguments. The Leitkultur debate is taken as symptomatic of the current state of public discourse about foreigners and national identity in Germany.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01434630408668920
Divisions: Languages & Social Sciences > German
Languages & Social Sciences > German research group
Languages & Social Sciences
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Uncontrolled Keywords: Leitkultur,multiculturalism,national identity,migration,foreigners,Germany
Full Text Link: http://www.tand ... 434630408668920
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Published Date: 2004-09
Authors: Manz, Stefan ( 0000-0002-9136-0380)

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