How does culture develop itself and identity

Cultural and collective identity using the example of Germans from Russia

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2. theory
2.1. What is identity
2.2. Cultural identity
2.3. Collective identity
2.4. External and self-attribution
2.5. Ethnocentrism

3. History of the Russian Germans
3.1. Russian Germans in Russia
3.2. Emigration to Germany
3.3. The life of the Russian Germans in Russia
3.4. Identity theory in relation to Russian Germans

4. Operationalization
4.1. Methodology - Narrative Interview
4.2. Structure of a narrative interview
4.3. Procedure for biographical case reconstruction

5. empiricism
5.1. target group
5.2. contact
5.3. Information about the interviews
5.4. Question
5.5. Interview with Rosa
5.6. Interview with Alexander
5.7. Interview with Alina
5.8. Interview with Maria
5.9. Interview with Johann
5.10. Summary of the interview results

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

1 Introduction

"Yet historical perspectives show that migration has been a normal aspect of social life - and especially of social change - throughout history." (Castles 2010: 1567).

Migration movements play an important role in the 20th century, as they trigger transformation processes on a political, institutional and social level. In addition, political decisions have a major influence on such movements (cf. Riek 2000: 17). The question that emerges here is how those affected deal with their migration themselves and which identity transformations result from it. If migration is linked to identity, it becomes clear that mutual feelings of alienation develop towards the other, which are expressed, for example, through strange ways of thinking and behaving (cf. Abuzahra 2012: 30 et seq.). This foreignness is additionally reinforced by the assumption that ancestry serves as an orientation for feelings of belonging (cf. Uzawericz / Uzawericz 1998: 168). This leads to a social discourse about belonging and characteristics of belonging, which are determined by interactions with the environment. It is a discourse about the demarcation of boundaries between the foreign and the familiar, between society and migrants, whereby a claim to collectivity can be called into question (cf. ibid .: 25). In this case, status ascriptions serve to assign oneself to a collective identity and are dependent on the extent to which a society can deal with migrants (cf. Abuzahra 2012: 38).

This bachelor thesis examines the question of how cultural and collective identities can develop through social framework conditions. Such an identity construction is explained using the example of Russian Germans. As Castles (2010) quote already makes clear, migration is a part of social life, but there are still feelings of foreignness and exclusion. For this reason, the cultural and collective identity constructions are examined with the help of Russian-German interview partners, taking into account external and self-attributions. The following questions arise: Which forms of identity have Russian Germans appropriated under the aspect of external and self-attribution? What experiences have you had and how do you deal with it? What effects do external and self-attributions have on the current positioning of the respective Russian-Germans? To what extent do attribution processes influence the construction of personal identity? To what extent do you construct yourself as Russian-Germans? How do you feel in Germany as Germans from Russia and how is your environment built up? In order to be able to answer such questions, this work is based on empiricism. This does not pursue any theoretical arguments, but rather has the purpose of looking at the cultural and collective forms of identity of Germans from Russia from an empirical perspective.

To clarify the focus of the investigation, a theoretical approach to identity is explained first. In this context, cultural and collective forms of identity are explained in order to then establish a reference to external and self-attributions. In addition, there is the concept of ethnocentrism, which indicates the effects of ascription processes. Since Russian Germans are the research group for this work, their history will be discussed below. This chapter contains her life in Russia and the Soviet Union as well as emigration processes. Building on this, the identity theory is linked to the history and life of the Germans from Russia. The following chapter is devoted to the methodology. Narrative interviews as well as the evaluation procedure of the biographical case reconstruction are explained. This is followed by a discussion of the contacts made with the interviewed persons and the presentation of the interviews carried out. Finally, the results of the interviews are summarized, which serve as the basis for the last chapter, which is the conclusion of this work.

2. theory

In the theoretical section of this thesis, the concept of identity as well as cultural and collective identity is explained. This is followed by an explanation of external and self-attribution and ethnocentrism.

2.1. What is identity

First, the concept of identification is explained in order to introduce the term identity. According to Hall, “identification means to make one's descent, origin recognizable; or it points to properties, characteristics that one shares with another person or with groups, or the agreement with an ideal […]. ”(Hall / Koivisto 2004: 168 f.). Identification makes use of objects and abstractions that make up an identity. Identification is therefore understood as a process of the self, which evolves depending on the context, takes on properties of the object and “[…] is directed against differences […].” (Ibid .: 169). Identity, which is not identical to something else, is constructed through a difference, since, depending on the context and discourse, it subjects itself to constant processes of transformation. Although identification indicates that there are common features as well as common historical origins, identities use these similarities differently. In addition, these resources influence the further development and development of identity and thus represent an essential part of identity transformations (cf. ibid .: 170 f.). Identities are constructed through differences, which arise mainly through power interventions. Since there is a constant confrontation between differences and identity constructions, identity cannot be a fixed concept, but has a process-like (cf. Tatter 2008: 108) and narrative character (cf. Griese 2006: 53). This confrontation arises through interaction between the self and the other. Meanwhile, the self separates itself from the other and continues to develop (cf. Tatter 2008: 108). Therefore, identity is in constant negotiation processes, in which there is a dialectical relationship between exclusion and attribution. The self, the identity, is constructed through the other (cf. Zinn-Thomas 2010: 42). This is why there is a self-ascription, because an ascription from the other, i.e. an external ascription, takes place. This reveals that identity must be viewed in the context of its environment and that language has an important function, as it mainly enables interaction (cf. Griese 2006: 23). Important considerations are social and political framework conditions as well as cultural guidelines that influence the self and the other. Furthermore, an individual not only has one identity, but also has several interlocking forms of identity. This is discussed in more detail in the following chapter.

2.2. Cultural identity

One form of identity that this work deals with is cultural identity. In current discourses, culture and identity are in the foreground and are linked to one another (cf. Abuzahra 2012: 27). However, no definition of culture is used to explain cultural identity, since culture is complex and flexible (cf. Wieviorka / Voullié 2003: 21). As already mentioned in the previous chapter, identity is a construct that arises from certain factors. Griese (2006) describes that cultural codes serve as construction features for a cultural identity. Such cultural codes can be, for example, language, beliefs, role assignments or images. A uniform culture is not decisive for a cultural identity, but rather cultural elements (cf. Abuzahra 2012: 57). Language is particularly important, as identity is constructed through interaction with the environment. Language thus serves as a demarcation from the other and creates identity for the self (cf. Reiher, Kramer 1998: 58). In the case of cultural identity, there is an interplay between the self, its environment and society, which contribute to the construction of identity (cf. Griese 2006: 59). A prerequisite for cultural identity is that the self delimits itself from the other and is thus constructed. It also serves as the basis for a collective identity. The design features can serve not only to orientate an identity, but also to develop several forms of identity. From this it becomes clear that cultural and collective identity are interdependent.

2.3. Collective identity

Collective identity is formed by matching characteristics of several identities and is "[...] historically changeable, situationally constructed and culturally coded" (cf. Griese 2006: 57). A collective arises from collective identities, as these use common symbols and features, such as awareness of the past or language. This commonality distinguishes a collective or a collective identity from other identities. Exclusion processes result in belonging to a collective (cf. Tatter 2008: 107). From this it can be concluded that a collective is a we-construct and that self- and external ascriptions can be collectively beneficial (cf. Uzarewicz / Uzarewicz 1998: 58). Affiliation characteristics can be, for example, a common background, a common origin or similar socializations (cf. ibid .: 63). Through the ascription of certain characteristics by others, collective identities or even a collective ascribe itself characteristics. As a result of this process, group-specific prejudices and stereotypes have developed that are an expression of mechanisms of exclusion (cf. Tröster 2003: 73). Attribution processes produce distinguishing features on the basis of which exclusion processes take place and are negotiated (cf. Zinn-Thomas 2010: 72). Such negotiation processes not only create collective identities, but individuals can ascribe several collective identities to themselves, depending on the context-related negotiation (cf. Ladilova 2001: 35). When considering collective identities, it is important not to start from homogeneous groups, but to include elements and characteristics that contribute to a feeling of belonging (cf. Abuzahra 2012: 61). It is noticeable that processes of external and self-attribution play a special role in the construction of identity. In the following chapter this phenomenon is explained in relation to ethnicity.

2.4. External and self-attribution

As already shown, an identity is formed through interaction with the unfamiliar. Exclusion processes develop in which external and self-attribution play a decisive role. Common group symbols distinguish a collective and a cultural identity from the foreign and ascribe certain characteristics to a certain group. These characteristics serve to differentiate groups. The attribution of certain characteristics leads to the self-attribution of others, which leads to renewed processes of exclusion. Therefore, external attributions and experiences do not stop (cf. Zinn-Thomas 2010: 41 f.). In relation to the concept of ethnicity, such ascription processes and collective identity play a decisive role. Ethnicity stands “[...] for human collectives, which culturally, linguistically, socially, historically. and sometimes also form a genetic unit. [...] Often an E. forms a community with a pronounced we-consciousness, strong solidarity and a clear demarcation from other E.n. "(Hillmann, Hartfiel 2007: 200). This definition, based on a sociological phrase, illustrates the interplay between ascription processes and collective developments. In addition, groups develop from this that are perceived as ethnic majorities or minorities, among other things. The ethnic majority forms the host society, for example in the case of migration movements. The ethnic minority can be a group of migrants who share symbols and characteristics and who join the ethnic majority because of their motivation to migrate. External attributions, such as status, are often based on a majority and depend on the respective social attitude towards migrants (cf. Abuzahra 2012: 38). As already mentioned, an external attribution also leads to a self-attribution of the ethnic minority. Nevertheless, such ascription processes can produce positive effects as well as negative. A negative effect can be triggered, for example, by discrimination and consequently lead to further demarcation from the majority society. In this way, a return to the cultural and collective identity of the society of origin can be built up and viewed as a counter-reaction (cf. Ladilova 2011: 34). Here, the external attribution is included in the personal self-perception. Social integration can also have a positive effect1 or assimilation2 emerge as well as the development of a multiple identity, i.e. a multiple associated collective identity (cf. Distelrath 2007: 15).

It turns out that the effects of external and self-attribution mainly depend on the resilience and participation of the respective minorities. Of course, social locations, participation and framework conditions as well as social openness are further important points (cf. Greuel 2009: 69). Nevertheless, the term ethnocentrism points to an increased form of external and self-attribution.

2.5. Ethnocentrism

When referring to the concept of ethnocentrism, reference is first made to a sociological definition. According to this, ethnocentrism means “attitude, conception or doctrine that focuses on one's own social collective [...] and is interpreted as superior, superior to other, foreign collectives. E. leads to discrimination against outsiders and contributes significantly to the emergence and exacerbation of social conflicts, […]. ”(Hillmann, Hartfiel 2007: 203). Classifications and categorizations along cultural and ethnic symbols create what is our own and what is foreign. Here the own takes precedence over the other (cf. Greuel 2009: 20). Self-locating and external categorizations as well as drawing boundaries serve as an orientation aid in order to bring out cultural and collective identity. Thus, the collective self-affirmation and the identification with common characteristics is an appreciation of the own collective and the cultural identity (cf. ibid .: 57 f.). Because of this, the majority succeeds in being above the minority. External attributions have an impact on the self-positioning of collective and cultural identities. These are illustrated by the empirical evidence of this work and by the example of the history of the Germans from Russia.

3. History of the Russian Germans

In order to get a cultural understanding of Russian Germans, the history of Russian Germans is presented first. The history of thinking and behavior as well as attitudes of the Germans from Russia can be traced (cf. Pabst 2007: 39). In addition, a historical perspective not only reflects the different situations and experiences of Germans from Russia, but also what power structures they were confronted with and how they affected them. In addition, the historical section is of high relevance for this work, as the story aroused social science attention to the Russian Germans.

3.1. Russian Germans in Russia

The history of the Germans in Russia began as early as the 16th century when Tsar Ivan IV “the Terrible” (1530-1584) brought German armourers, demolition masters and cannon founders to Russia to fight the Tartars (cf. Winter-Heider 2009: 32). Following on from this, Peter the Great (1689-1725) caused specialists from Germany to come to Russia to build a Russian fleet and to build the city of Saint Petersburg. Another crucial period for the history of the Russian Germans is the territorial expansion of Russia during the reign of Tsarina Catherine II (1729-1796).It implemented a colonization policy, on the one hand to allow the unpopulated territory in the south to be settled and, on the other hand, to meet the demand for skilled workers at the time (cf. ibid .: 33). The aim was to learn agricultural and craft techniques from the Germans (cf. ibid.). Tsarina Katharina II brought about 23,000 German immigrants to Russia through a recruitment manifesto in 1763 and promised them privileges such as freedom from religion and taxes and exemption from military service (cf. Pabst 2007: 41). As a result, the number of German immigrants in Russia rose annually. The growing population was also supported by the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), as Germany had tough living conditions and religious communities were persecuted (cf. Riek, 2000: 35). The main settlement areas were on the Volga, in the Caucasus, in Siberia and Central Asia. More than 3,000 German colonies had emerged in these areas by the end of the 19th century (cf. Pabst 2007: 42). The Germans kept to themselves in their settlements, spoke their mother tongue German, had their own administration and German schools. Contact with the native Russians was mainly only maintained through trade relations. This isolation and demarcation from the Russian population was reinforced, among other things, by language barriers and different faiths (cf. ibid .: 43). At the end of the 19th century there were over 1.7 million German-speaking people in Russia, whose situation worsened as a result of Tsar Alexander II (1855-1881). His goal was to enforce Pan-Slavism, the unification of all Slav peoples (cf. ibid .: 42). For this purpose, German privileges were suspended and military service and Russian were introduced as the official language (cf. ibid.). In addition, the establishment of the German Empire in 1871 gave Germans in Russia far-reaching problems, such as attacks against Germans and looting of German shops (cf. Winter-Heider 2009: 34). “The foreign policy relationship between the two states, Germany and Russia, played an increasingly decisive role in the relationship between Russia and the Russian-German minority.” (Pabst 2007: 43). Anti-German attitudes and discrimination were intensified by the First World War (1914-1918). Although Germans from Russia fought in the Russian army, there were collective coercive measures and deportations to Siberia (cf. Riek 2000: 38). The situation of the Russian Germans improved as a result of the October Revolution and the seizure of power by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin in 1917. This was followed by the establishment and recognition of the “Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of the Volga Germans” (Pabst 2007: 44). 25 percent of Russian Germans lived in the so-called Volga Republic and cultivated their German-influenced cultural life with their own schools, theaters, newspapers, administrations and the German language (cf. Winter-Heider 2009: 35). Nevertheless, the political relationship between Russia and Germany had further effects on the lives of Russian Germans. On the one hand, the Soviet Socialist Republic was founded in 1922 and the then General Secretary of the Communist Party, Josef Stalin, carried out forced deportations to Siberia. On the other hand, the seizure of power by the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) in 1933 resulted in the Russian Germans collaborating and connecting with the German enemy and fascism3 were accused (see Riek 2000: 40 f.). In addition, there is Stalin's Liquidation Act, which enforced the expropriation of German settlers (cf. Greuel 2009: 92). The situation of the Russian-Germans came to a head in 1941 during the Second World War (1939-1945). The result of the German attack on the Soviet Union was the dissolution of the Volga Republic and further deportations of the Germans to Siberia and Central Asia, where they found shelter in labor camps. Despite Germany's surrender in 1945, Stalin carried out further deportations.

[...]



1 Integration is “a sociological one. Designation for processes of behavioral and conscious integration into or adjustment to value structures and behavior patterns a) by individuals in certain groups or organizations or in the areas of society that are relevant to them; b) between different groups, strata, classes, races of a society; c) between different societies in favor of the development of new 'higher' common cultural structures and social orders. ”(Hillmann, Karl-Heinz; Hartfiel, Günter (2007): Dictionary of Sociology. With… a time table. 5thed. Stuttgart: Kröner , P.383.)

2 Assimilation is “in the ethnolog. and political-sociological. Term often used in literature for processes of assimilating one ethnic or social group to another. "(Ibid. P.53)

3 Fascism is "[...] a political reaction to general crisis situations [...]." The hallmarks are "[...] hatred and the aggressions of manipulated 'national communities' on critical-rational or ethnic and political minorities [...]." (Hillmann , Karl-Heinz; Hartfiel, Günter (2007): Dictionary of Sociology. With… a time table. 5thed. Stuttgart: Kröner.)

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