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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Germany

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 2 2.5


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and / or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   Not explicitly, although there is increasing recognition of immigrant integration as a permanent feature of the country’s landscape; this is particularly the case at the municipal level.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0.5

Evidence:

  • Immigration to Germany has typically been a highly politicized issue. Although Germany has not traditionally positioned itself as an “immigration country,” the 2005 election of a coalition government composed of the Christian Democratic Union and Social Democratic Party brought with it an increasing appetite to address the country’s growing diversity (Triadafilopoulos 2009). A new Immigration Act was passed in 2005, and there has been a move toward the creation of various integration policies. At the national level at least, there has, however, been a conscious effort not to label these “multiculturalism” policies (ibid.).
  • In addition, in debates on integration, Germany treats immigrants with a regular residence status differently from those with a so-called “tolerated” status. Those with a regular residence status are encouraged to integrate, and there are initiatives to facilitate this; those with a tolerated status are explicitly encouraged not to integrate as the ultimate goal is to see them return to their country of origin (Cyrus and Vogel 2005).
  • Consultation with ethnic communities in the development of policies has been uneven. For example, although an Expert Council on Immigration and Integration was dissolved in 2005 following public outcry over its recommendation that labour immigration be increased (Cyrus and Vogel 2005), there are some more recent examples of Germany’s efforts to involve civil society in the crafting of immigration and integration policies. An Integration Summit was convened in 2006, and it involved several migrant organizations. One catchphrase for the Summit was “talking to migrants, not about them” (Bundesregierung 2007).
  • The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is the department chiefly responsible for immigration and ethnic communities. The government’s primary legislative obligations with respect to immigrant integration are outlined in section 43 of the Residence Act (2004). It stipulates that integration is a joint responsibility of the immigrant and the state, that foreigners must learn enough about German life to live without assistance, and that a basic package of integration courses will be offered to facilitate this. The act also requires the government to develop an integration plan. In this vein, a National Integration Plan was released in 2007; in the months leading up to its development, the government actively engaged immigrant associations and communities. Nonetheless, some Turkish associations were upset about some of the proposed requirements, including those related to the language skills required by family migrants; they opted to boycott the summit (Regierung Online 2007).
  • In terms of the commitments made in the Integration Plan, some of these appear to be derived from multicultural principles but, again, multiculturalism is not explicitly mentioned. This is partly because, as Triadafilopoulos (2009) points out, multiculturalism is viewed as an “easy-going relativism” that does not give the state a sufficient role in mediating between the culture of the host society and those of newcomers.
  • Instead, the government says that integration is a combination of “promoting and demanding.” It “requires an effort from everyone, from government and society. Decisive is the migrants’ willingness to get involved with life in our society, to unconditionally accept our Basic Law and our entire legal system and, in particular, to visibly demonstrate the belonging to Germany by learning the German language. On the side of the host society, acceptance, tolerance, civic commitment and willingness to honestly welcome people living lawfully among us, are essential … The diverse migrants’ abilities have not been sufficiently acknowledged and promoted thus far. The Federal Government would like to change this in the future” (Bundesregierung 2007).
  • While the Integration Plan outlined responsibilities of the federal government, it also committed funds to municipal governments and NGOs so that they could deliver integration programs. As such, there is an important local dimension to integration (Triadafilopoulos 2009). Some of these cities have been active on this front for some time. Frankfurt, for example, has had an Office for Multicultural Affairs since the 1980s; note, however, that this is the only city in Germany that uses the word “multiculturalism” to describe its approach (ibid.). Stuttgart, meanwhile, developed a “Pact for Integration” in 2001 in collaboration with NGOs and civil society groups. It recognizes cultural diversity as a resource to be cultivated and lists peaceful cohabitation, social cohesion and the promotion of participation and equal opportunities for all residents among its goals (ibid.). Stuttgart also has a municipal Integration Department, which is advised by 13 members of city council and 12 community members with immigrant backgrounds. The city also publishes information in several languages and hosted a roundtable on religions in 2003 (ibid.).


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Education is a state responsibility in Germany. Note, in addition, that compulsory schooling is typically not accorded to children of refugees whose residence status is considered “tolerated” but insecure and temporary, nor to the children of undocumented migrants (Miera 2008).
  • In 1996, a resolution on intercultural education was adopted by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder (KMK). Although not binding, the recommendation positioned intercultural education as a concern for minorities and the host society and suggested that pupils should “‘become aware of their own cultural socialisation, gain knowledge about other cultures, develop curiosity, openness and an understanding of other cultures, recognize their fears and endure tensions, (…) respect otherness, reflect own standpoints (…) and solve conflicts resulting from ethnic, cultural or religious affiliation in a peaceful manner’” (quoted in Miera 2008, 11-12).
  • Some of these ideas were repeated in the 2007 National Integration Plan, which committed to developing an education system that “‘opens up chances and develops potential’” (quoted in Miera 2008, 12). Nonetheless, the focus here is more on developing the “intercultural competence” of migrant children—that is, their ability to integrate and succeed in German society—rather than on multiculturalism per se. As Miera (2008, 12) points out, the plan includes “no specific suggestions about education, curricula contents or the accommodation of various cultures and religions. … In contrast to the [earlier] KMK recommendations [on] education, the National Integration Plan does not reflect any real acceptance of, or approach to, difference and cultural heterogeneity.”
  • Indeed, as Wagner and Blumenreich (2009, 48) explain, “Intercultural education is not an official component of general school education.” In addition, Leise (2007) notes that while education is a central prong in the government’s integration strategy, there has not been “any comprehensive policy reform to correct the deficiencies in its educational system as regards immigrant youth or those with an immigrant background.” In particular, children with a migrant background continue to fare poorly in the German education system, as is consistently shown in their lower overall educational attainment and in various international rankings of student performance. The streaming of German students into vocational versus preparatory secondary schools is viewed as a problem in this regard, with migrant children typically directed to the former, rather than the latter (Miera 2008).
  • While some schools are becoming more open to diversity, “on the whole, most Länder policy programmes are based on the view of ‘cultures’ as homogenous, self-contained collectives. An awareness of the hybridity of cultures is most often notably absent, and the challenges that migration poses on the German nation are barely taken into account (Miera 2008, 14).


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation / sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   No, only very weakly.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Germany’s broadcasting system includes both public and private broadcasters. Nonetheless, as Wagner and Blumenreich (2009, 20) argue, all broadcasters “agree that programme content should help to promote the cultural diversity of the regions and the country as a whole.”
  • Article 3(1) of the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement (1991) prohibits programs that “arouse hatred against segments of the population or national, racial, religious or ethnic groups, encourage violent or arbitrary action against them or attack the human dignity of others by insulting segments of the population or any of the aforementioned groups or by maliciously degrading or defaming them.” Meanwhile, article 42(1) stipulates that the Jewish community be granted reasonable time for the transmission of religious programs. Nonetheless, the focus remains on promoting German culture, with the act’s references to diversity focussing primarily on the diversity of the German-speaking regions.
  • However, the 2007 National Integration Plan commits to “have journalists and actors of foreign origin increasingly included in editorial departments and programmes” (Bundesregierung 2007).
  • Many larger cities offer radio channels broadcasting in foreign languages, and public broadcasters produce some programs that target ethnic minorities and are broadcast in various foreign languages (Wagner and Blumenreich 2009).


4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

   Some, but uneven and not without controversy.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0.5

Evidence:

  • A 2002 court ruling guaranteed Muslims the right to sacrificial animal slaughter (Mahlmann 2008), while a 2003 judgment allowed women to hear the hijab while teaching. In the latter case, however, given that state governments have responsibility for education, many simply enacted local policies that prohibited teachers from wearing the hijab (Leise 2007).
  • Although the wearing of turbans does not yet seem to have caused considerable controversy, a report on measures to combat discrimination does note that prohibitions on jewellery, headgear or the wearing of a beard may be considered a “general occupational requirement” and thus not regarded as discrimination (Mahlmann 2008).
  • Accommodations have been made for Muslim women taking integration classes; women-only classes are available, and there have been efforts to tailor the content to women migrants’ needs (Leise 2007).
  • Miera (2008) notes that Muslim and Jewish students are typically accommodated and permitted to remain at home on religious holidays; most schools also offer pork-free lunches. Girls are also allowed to wear the hijab and abstain from swimming or physical education classes that involve boys. Still, there is typically much debate over these accommodations, and they are often depicted as occurring in alarming numbers.


5. Allows dual citizenship

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0.5 0

Evidence:

  • Germany liberalized its citizenship policy in 2000 so that citizenship could be obtained by birth, rather than only through descent. Nonetheless, requirements for naturalization simultaneously became more stringent with applicants required to pass a German language test, demonstrate knowledge of the country’s values and norms, and pledge their acceptance of the rule of law. In addition, naturalized citizens are required to denounce their prior citizenships; this was a change from earlier policy, which had permitted dual citizenship to some extent (Leise 2007; see also Howard 2005).
  • Prior to the changes, many Turks who had acquired German citizenship subsequently reacquired their Turkish citizenship without notifying German officials; this allowed them to maintain dual citizenship. In 2005, however, officials required all dual Turkish-German citizens to choose one citizenship and noted that anyone who reacquired their Turkish citizenship after naturalizing in Germany would face penalties and the loss of their German citizenship (Leise 2007).


6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

   Yes.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 1 1

Evidence:

  • In delivering social programs, Germany employs the “subsidiary principle”; as such, welfare associations play a significant role. While umbrella-type organizations deliver the bulk of these programs, some immigrant associations—particularly those with roots in the Turkish community—are becoming increasingly active. They thus receive public funds to deliver some integration programs (Cyrus and Vogel 2005).
  • Ohliger (2008) notes in addition that immigrant associations are commonplace in Germany, with more than 1,000 existing across the country. The 2007 National Integration Plan commits to strengthening migrants associations, recognizing these as instrumental in the development and delivery of integration and immigration policies (Bundesregierung 2007).
  • Funding for ethnic minority cultural programs has also been made available in some cities (notably Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Dortmund, Essen, Osnabrück) and Länder (North Rhine-Westfalia, in particular) (Wagner and Blumenreich 2009). Ethnic minorities can also access funding made available to promote “intercultural exchange.” These programs include the federally funded House of World Cultures, the federally endowed Sociocultural Fund and various “celebrations of foreign cultures” that have been launched by individual Länder and numerous municipalities (ibid.).


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

   To some extent, but limited and uneven.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0.5 0.5

Evidence:

  • Germany’s integration policies place a strong emphasis on the learning of German. Approximately 600-900 hours of German language courses are provided to new immigrants. These courses are funded partly by the government, but immigrants must themselves make a financial contribution. Immigrants who arrived prior to the 2005 immigration reforms do not have a right to these courses, but they may be allowed to participate if there are available spaces or they may be obliged to do so if they are unemployed (Cyrus and Vogel 2005).
  • In schools, students are often separated on the basis of language ability with “non-German first language students segregated from the rest. In many Länder, non-German-speaking students are taught in separate classes by migrant teachers using their first language. This measure is conceived of as preparatory, however, with the learning of adequate German the goal. Nonetheless, in many schools, these classes become permanent, and migrant children continue to be taught in their first language for some time (Miera 2008). Whether this is a reflection of a larger commitment to multiculturalism or simply a case of benign neglect is, however, a matter of debate.
  • Some mother-tongue instruction may also be provided by the embassies or governments of the countries that are the traditional sources of guest workers to Germany. Historically, these courses were offered on the assumption that the migration was temporary and that the immigrants would eventually return to their countries of origin; as such, efforts were made to ensure they remained fluent in their mother tongue (Miera 2008). Increasingly, however, migrants are remaining in Germany, and this has led some states to prohibit mother-tongue instruction because it is viewed as a hindrance to integration (ibid.).
  • Nonetheless, there is evidence of some cities making strides in this area with Hamburg, for example, having proposed bilingual teaching in its schools not simply as a means to facilitate the learning of German, but as a way of preserving and enhancing Turkish students’ cultural identity (Gogolin and Reich 2001; Miera 2008).


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

   No.

SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • The German General Equal Treatment Act came into effect in August 2006. As in most other European countries, it protects employees against discrimination on the basis of several grounds, including race, ethnic origin and religion.
  • There does not yet appear to be any policy of affirmative action. In one report, Germany’s interpretation of “equality” is summarized as “treating essentially equal things equally and essentially unequal things unequally”; it notes further that the constitution has opened the door to positive action policies for women and persons with disabilities, but it is debateable if such measures would be applied to other groups (Mahlmann 2008, 45). Mahlmann (2008, 45) suggests that the case law would permit preferential hiring schemes, but “the issue is highly contentious, especially as far as rigid quota systems are concerned. It has been extensively discussed regarding discrimination on the ground of sex. There has been no comparable debate regarding other grounds.”
  • Nonetheless, in a bulletin released by the government at the time that the 2007 National Integration Plan was adopted, it was noted that “all actors are called on to pull their weight—first and foremost the government. The Federal Minister of Justice pointed out that every fourth trainee in Germany comes from a migrant background. This is true of only about two percent of trainees in the civil service, however. In future, public-sector employers aim to set a good example” (Regierung Online 2007).

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