What is cultural identity 1

The concept of cultural identity from Ulrich Beck's perspective

Table of Contents

0 Introduction

1 The concept of cultural identity
1.1 The concept of culture
1.2 The concept of identity
1.2.1 Conclusion

2 Beck's reflections on the problem of the present
2.1 Past: The Nation State?
2.2 Present: the world society?
2.2.1 The process of globalization
2.2.2 The process of individualization and its side effects
2.3 What do these developments mean for the formation of a cultural identity?
2.3.1 General considerations
2.3.2 Language as an identity-creating moment?
2.3.3 Can enemies create a common identity?
2.3.4 Conclusion

3 Summarizing conclusion

4 Bibliography


In this term paper the attempt should be made to investigate the theory of cultural identity on the basis of the social science work of Ulrich Beck.

Ulrich Beck is one of the most famous sociologists in Germany and has been teaching since ... at the university ... Munich,

Beck is primarily concerned with contemporary problems, such as the emergence of new risk situations or social changes as a result of or caused by the ubiquitous process of globalization.

This is how descriptions of current processes come from ...

"People shop internationally, work internationally, love and marry internationally, and combine multiple loyalties and identities in their lives. (Beck http://www.lse.ac.uk/serials/Bjs/lectdet.htm)

from the pen of Ulrich Beck. The quote indicates that the 'container theory' has lost its validity. The assumed coverage ratio between state and society is breaking up (Beck 1999, p. 31).

This refers to a general problem in the social sciences, from which Beck demands new theoretical developments and adaptation to the new challenges of current processes (Beck 1999, p. 30)

More precisely it says:

"Ulrich Beck suggested cosmopolitan social science as the beginnings of a new critical theory, that is an approach in which the national perspective is no longer assumed as a central organizing principal of social scientific thought, in which the contradictions, dilemmas and unseen and unwanted side -effects of an increasingly cosmopolitan modernity are problematised. " (http://www.lse.ac.uk/Depts/global/Yearbook/methnatreport.htm)

As will be seen in the following, such inadequacies in current social science theory include the territorial understanding of identity.

To be more precise, Beck says it

"... new technological-symbolic experience unit of globality and intimacy ... cannot be grasped with the common terminology of 'living worlds', 'classes', 'cultures', 'subcultures' and similar territorial units (Beck 1998, p .56).

In the following, Beck tries to explain the aspects and conditions for the formation of a cultural identity.

In the first part of this paper, the concept of cultural identity should first be presented. Since it can be assumed that there are also different ways of looking at things, various contributions to the problem of cultural identity are taken up and dealt with.

Last but not least, this should be due to a more comprehensive view. In the first part, the terms culture and identity are explained in more detail and viewed in a differentiating manner.

In the second part that follows, some of Beck's theories will first be presented, which I think can be used or viewed in the context of the concept of cultural identity.

In particular, a comparison between the characteristics of cultural identity from Part 1 and Beck's observations should be used.

This is followed, as is generally the case, with a summarizing conclusion and a list of the literature used from the field of print media and the Internet.

1 The concept of cultural identity

1.1 The concept of culture

Maletzke defines the concept of culture

"... as a system of concepts, convictions, attitudes, value orientations that become visible in people's behavior and actions as well as in intellectual and material products (Maletzke 1996, p. 35).

Here culture is understood as the way people shape their lives and their environment.

Müller-Doohm, on the other hand, is less based on microsociological clues in his definition of the term. This is how he understands culture based on historical and societal aspects ...

"... as the historically created constellation of the setting of meanings (...): as a differentiated system of common symbols, on the basis of which the subjects can give meanings to their experiences." (Viehoff / Segers. 1999, p. 86)

Eder states: "Culture is a medium for communication. Culture is the condition for the possibility of communication." (Viehoff / Segers. 1999, p. 171) and emphasizes an essential component in the constitution of collectively oriented identity. But more on that later.

Beck, on the other hand, differentiates between two conceptions of the concept of culture. Accordingly, the first concept of culture ties culture to a specific territory. This term is based on the assumption that culture is always to be seen as a product of local processes. This understanding of the term enables a clear delimitation of cultures or territorial communities. (Beck 1997 a, p. 118)

The second concept of culture understands culture as "generally human software". According to this understanding, all people have learning processes that are not tied to their specific cultures.

"These are thought of as non-integrated, non-delimited multiplicity without unity, in my sense as inclusive distinctions." (ibid.)

In this sense of the word, a number of cultures exist side by side, which together form a whole.

In general, however, both definitions assume that every culture is tied to a location. While the former understands the location of a culture as self-contained, the second definition of culture understands the location as being open to the outside world and thus open to other cultural influences (ibid.).

The so-called cultural universals speak for the "general human software" of the second concept of culture. These traits, skills and behaviors apply to all individuals across cultures. In addition to the biological universals, which are clearly available and proven, the detection of cultural universals turns out to be difficult or even impossible, since the conditions that cultural universals have to meet - to have applied everywhere and at all times and still apply today - are difficult to prove. In general, however, one can assume that, for example, names, number systems, marriage, phonoms and morphemes, moral values, music, etc. bear the character of cultural universals (Maletzke 1996, p. 36).

1.2 The concept of identity

Saxer understands the identity of a person

"... the subjective processing of biographical continuity / discontinuity and ecological consistency / inconsistency by a person with regard to self-claims and social demands." (Viehoff / Segers 1999, p. 98)

Graumann emphasizes an aspect that is particularly relevant for the later discussion: the location of an identity. So he writes:

"Every social identity is not only integrated in an interpersonal-interactive way; it is also always location-bound (...) and related to things." (Viehoff / Segers 1999, p. 64)

As will be found out later, Beck considers the condition of an identity to be bound by location to be out of date in view of current developments (http://www.lse.ac.uk/Depts/global/Yearbook/methnatreport.htm). This will have to be dealt with elsewhere.

Furthermore, Graumann assumes that an elementary process for the development of an identity is the distinction or the categorization between "we" and "the others". This comparison is based on the assessment that the other person is assessed as different or different in a certain respect, i.e. belongs to a different social group or community (ibid., P.71). Thus, social identity relies on the awareness of belonging to a specific group.

In addition, Graumann makes it clear that social and cultural identity arise from the same sources. Graumann writes:

"What places and things like people can symbolize are ultimately values ​​that define a culture in their entirety. Identifying yourself with someone or something is always value-related and thus also an identification with the community for which these values ​​are binding to the extent that social identity is constituted through identification, it is legitimate to interpret it as cultural identity too. " (ibid., p. 64)

Eder also emphasizes the necessary demarcation from the other by writing:

"Collective identity is something the content of which is contingent, with which there is a diffuse affective bond and which provides a central service: to define who belongs to it and who does not, i.e. to achieve an act of exclusion." (Ibid., P. 148)

However, Eder does not attribute what is in common, on the basis of which decisions are made about inclusion and exclusion, to circumstances that have evolved over time, as Müller-Doohm, who understands culture as "... a historically developed constellation of meanings". Rather, he means:

"If something in common is identified, it is not on the basis of history, but because cultural contexts of meaning have developed in institutions of communication that determine what should be communicated as common." (ibid., p. 160)

In addition, Eder explains: "The cultural roots of European society are thus based on a complex cultural heritage." (ibid.)

This consists on the one hand of the Greeks, whose society prevails

"… Social, economic and political dynamics (and, author's note) flexible cultural restrictions on the use of political power…." and on the other hand from the Jewish heritage, which integrated its economic, political and social dynamics into a cultural world that set rigid limits on the use of political power. "(ibid., p. 157).

Which social model prevailed certainly does not need to be mentioned again.

Generally it goes to Eder

"... not about the veracity of collective memories and stories - it's all about the fact that collective experiences are remembered, however fictional they may be." (ibid., p.154)

Müller-Doohm understands collective identities as "... constructs from symbolic means", which in turn are taken from a cultural context of tradition. (ibid., p. 78).

These identities mark belonging to a group, be it a linguistic community, a nation or an association of states and have emerged from a historical process. Müller-Doohm also refers to a change in the constitution of social identities when he writes:

"This specifically modern commonality is no longer based on identification with a symbolic figure that represents everyone (...), but on an artificially created community that can refer to any characteristics: language, origin, religion." (ibid., p. 163)

In the course of globalization, the design of identity, which is understood here as

"... process of progressive compression with simultaneous interweaving of places, capital, goods, services and risks ..." (ibid., P. 175),

a change. The nation or the local community no longer forms the basis for group membership. Instead, one starts looking for a "... common denominator beyond the national." (ibid., p. 165).

What they have in common remains largely arbitrary in the ´postmodern identity concept` (ibid., P. 157). Nevertheless, the following can apply:

"... the construction of collective identities in the age of globalism is not only to be secured by the connection to particular worldviews, but also to an extraordinarily high level of communicative competence." (ibid., p. 178).

In particular, Graumann holds for complex and pluralistic societies in which "... many heterogeneous values ​​are represented and some of which (such as egoism and solidarity) are incompatible" it must be assumed that the social identities of their members also change Structure "... complex and full of tension ..." (Viehoff / Segers 1999, p. 67).

1.2.1 Conclusion

According to the term, cultural identity is a consciousness that develops on the basis of a commonality.


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