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«Difference and Democracy Kolja Raube, Dr. phil., is lecturer and programme coordinator in the master programme “European Studies: Transnational and ...»

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Difference and Democracy

Kolja Raube, Dr. phil., is lecturer and programme coordinator in the master

programme “European Studies: Transnational and Global Perspectives” at the

University of Leuven. He is also Senior Member at the Leuven Centre for Global

Governance Studies. Annika Sattler, Dr. rer. pol., works for the German Federal

Bank in Frankfurt/M.

Kolja Raube, Annika Sattler

with Saskia Mestern

Difference and Democracy

Exploring Potentials in Europe and Beyond

Campus Verlag Frankfurt/New York Bibliographic Information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie;

detailed bibliographic data are available in the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de ISBN 978-3-593-39502-9 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

Copyright © 2011 Campus Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt/Main Cover illustration: Ernst, Max; Konfiguration 16 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011 Printing office and bookbinder: Beltz Druckpartner, Hemsbach Printed on acid free paper.

Printed in Germany This book is also available as an E-Book www.campus.de www.press.uchicago.edu Chapter 1 Analytical Model The Concept of Difference Christine Landfried Almost everyone likes diversity. Who wants to wear the same outfit all the time or never try a new recipe? We travel to far-off countries to enjoy the diversity of cultures and landscapes. Difference, by contrast, is suspect. It evokes conflict and the destruction of harmony and unity.

In a global world we experience a complex diversity of difference.

In an age of worldwide migration, moreover, we get to know the manifold differences between cultures, for example in how people see religion and the freedom of opinion, on our doorstep. “The comfort of geographical distance and segregation is lost and the cultural avoidance cannot be maintained any longer within the boundaries of a protected community” (Göle, this volume, 166). But this means that we have to address the fundamental difference of ideas, interests, and institutions between cultures. What do we really know about immigrants, people who have come, for example, to Germany from a wide variety of countries, 1 and what do immigrants know of us? Only if cultures get to know each other and meet in openness can difference unfold its positive potential.

Unlike diversity, difference therefore does not have pleasant, horizon-broadening sides to it from the outset. Conflicts develop on the construction of mosques in Germany (Leggewie 2009, 117f.) and we take note of the Swiss referendum against minarets and the reactions to the outcome of this poll (Göle 2010, 125). Some conflicts about difference turn into confrontations. Such confrontations need to be —————— 1 The 6.7 million foreigners living in Germany originate among others from the following countries (Sachverständigenrat deutscher Stiftungen für Integration und Migration 2010, 112): Turkey (1.7 million Turkish nationals, 25.4 percent), Italy (523,162 Italian nationals, 7.8 percent), Serbia (424,037 Serbian nationals, 6.3 percent), and Poland (393,848 Polish nationals 5.9 percent).


understood, explained, and constructively translated (Apel 1981, 127) to enable cultures to live together.

In a global world, democratic governments have not only to pay greater attention to cultural, religious, and linguistic difference and to ensure equality among citizens on the basis of concrete differences.

They also face the challenge of institutional difference in national, European, and international systems of governance. Political regulation in the sense of the state intentionally intervening in the structures and processes of society is becoming more complex. New actors are taking the stage. In cooperation with nation-states, institutions such as the European Union, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations influence the political design of life in the community. More and more frequently, civil-society actors are playing a part in shaping and implementing political regulation (Jakobeit et al. 2010). These new forms of governance (Mayntz 2009, 43) differ depending on the policy area and the level to which a given arrangement applies (Raube, this volume, 116). Globalization leads to the “multiplication of different normative orders” (Sassen 2008, 11) and to collisions between these orders (Fischer-Lescano and Teubner 2006, 36). Nation-states, again, change in quite different ways in this process by which people take increasingly comprehensive, intensive, and far-reaching action across national borders (Beck and Grande 2010, 429; Held et al. 1999, 15).

This manifold difference can have both negative and positive consequences for democratic governance. Therefore, the fundamental question of this concept is how actors deal with difference. This means that politics is called upon to judge difference not prematurely as problematic but to consider in each case how the positive aspects of difference can be brought to fruition. The cognitive interest of the concept is directed towards the capacity of democratic politics “to manage difference […] in ways that upgrade the collective interest” (Stone Sweet, this volume, 227). Where the negative potential of difference is apparent, countermeasures have to be taken (Putnam 2007, 137–174) 2.

—————— 2 The empirical study by the political scientist Robert D. Putnam has shown that ethnic difference in American communities leads not only to a loss of trust and solidarity among groups but also within the same ethnic group. The greater the ethnic difference in a community, the less citizens participate in public life and the


Even in language it is evident that the negative meaning of difference is to be attributed to human action. The historian Reinhart Koselleck has been able to show that when groups apply general terms only to themselves, thus asserting an “exclusive claim to generality” (1985, 156) those excluded suffer discrimination. The counterconcept of “Hellenes and Barbarians” offers one example. Barbarians were not only strangers but also strangers with negative characteristics. History knows many counterconcepts designed to exclude mutual recognition.

Such counterconcepts—being one form of difference—are asymmetrical (Koselleck 1985, 156).

Thus, it is up to humanities and social sciences to gain empirical knowledge about the concrete conditions that either lead to differences being abused for exclusion, for constructing enemy stereotypes and for negative definitions of others, or that enable the positive potential of difference to be used to “fuel” the freedom and equality of citizens in democratic systems. Political scientists must investigate in which way difference becomes a point of reference for political action (Riedmüller and Vinz 2007, 154). Heuristic access to explaining the negative or positive potential of difference for governance in the nation-state and beyond national borders lies in the assumed link between difference and democracy. This connection is underestimated by both politicians and scholars. Similarities between structures and processes are considered desirable. In European studies, for example, commonalities between European Union member states are particularly sought. Differences, in contrast, are regarded as a problem and much more rarely addressed. 3 It is not by chance that difference often —————— more strongly they withdraw into their own four walls as into a snail’s shell. From his results, Putnam concludes that the key challenge for modern, differentiated societies is to create a new, more capacious sense of ‘we’.

3 Wolfgang Ullrich has shown astonishing parallels for art studies in his lecture How.

On the Role of Comparison in Dealing with Art given on the occasion of receiving the Martin Warnke Medal on April 20, 2011 in the Warburg-Haus in Hamburg. He points out that art studies look primarily for similarities between works of art, obtaining added value and pursuing the logic of returns with this sort of comparison. “It seems to be overly conducive and conflict avoiding to look for similarities everywhere” (Ullrich 2011, 10). Art theorists who, “unlike art dealers or auctioneers are not obliged from the outset to generate higher values should learn to ‘doubt the evidence’.” It is their job to “point out differences between Dürer and Raphael, between Friedrich and Beuys, between Rothko and Giotto or at least to relativize the commonalities claimed by others” (ibid., 20). However, an analytical comparison


falls by the wayside and the democratic meaning of difference remains hidden. This sense lies in the strengthening of democratic procedures by including difference (Göle 2008, 148). Democratic discourses and negotiations in which difference is taken seriously are most likely to produce reasonable results in a global world (Habermas 1992, 368).

“The sovereignty of the familiar impoverishes everyone.” (Geertz 1986, 119) This statement by the ethnologist Clifford Geertz can also be expressed in positive terms: the productivity of difference makes everyone richer. Finding the conditions of this productivity for legitimate and effective governance in a global world is the aim of this book. From the perspective of various disciplines, countries, and generations we hope to make a small contribution to research into the effects of difference.

In my reflections I first define “difference” and propose a typology of difference. I go on to explain the theoretical assumptions and analytical categories of the difference concept. In the final section I discuss research questions that arise from this concept.

The Definition of Difference The term difference comes from the Latin differe (to differ) and denotes a distinction in a neutral sense (Grande, this volume, 185). Difference covers structural differences of ideas, interests, institutions, and capacities, systemic differences both between societal subsystems and between systems of the global order (Luhmann 2000), and finally actionoriented differences in dealing with difference (Fuchs 2007). It is a moot point whether difference is a problem or a solution (Schmidt 2010, 184). I therefore ask what conditions make it possible to use difference as positive potential for legitimate and effective governance in a global world while at the same time reducing the negative potential of difference.

Difference—in the “collective singular” (Kollektivsingular) (Koselleck 1982)—is an analytical term which has concrete differences related to —————— has to “avoid both a simple identity thesis and a one-sided difference thesis” (ibid., 23).


it. 4 The opposite of difference is congruence in the sense of correspondence or agreement. 5 Equality, in contrast, is not in contradiction to difference because the principle of equality in democratic constitutions is based on difference (von Brünneck, this volume, 78). Not everything is to be treated equally. In the case of essential differences unequal treatment is indeed called for. Against the backdrop of centuries of discrimination against women, women’s quotas in politics and business and thus a policy based on difference is accordingly just as compatible with the principle of equality as are specific group rights for indigenous peoples. Constitutional democracies are concerned not with identical but with equal citizens (Tully 2005, 66).

The concept of difference proceeds on the normative premise that different cultures are equivalent (Taylor 1994, 64). 6 The assumption is that it depends on actors, on decision-making structures, and on the properties of systems whether difference can be used in national and international politics as positive potential for legitimate and effective decision making. The hypothesis of the difference-theoretical approach can be stated as follows: the more democratically and communicatively actors deal with difference in the decision-making process, the more suitable the decision-making structures are for perceiving and organizing difference, and the more strongly the specific characteristics of systems are taken into account (Beck and Grande 2007, 74), the greater will be the degree to which the positive potential of difference comes to bear in the output of politics.

Even if difference and diversity are often used as synonyms (Page 2007), I opt for difference for two reasons. In the first place, difference, as suggested above, is the more basic term. Thus, the difference between the political majority and minority is an important difference within democracy and is realized in political competition between government and opposition (Stein, this volume). There is, however, diversity, a variety of possibilities for shaping the rights of the minor————— 4 I want to thank Peer Zumbansen for the translation.

5 A less strong opposite of difference would be similarity. In English, “difference” is contrasted with “resemblance” (Shorter Oxford Dictionary on Historical Principles 2002).

6 In sociolinguistics, the “difference hypothesis” thus refers to a conception that, in contrast to the “deficit hypothesis,” stresses the equivalence of linguistic possibilities of expression of members of different social strata in the communication process (cf. Brockhaus 1996).


ity in relation to the majority in a democracy. Secondly, diversity describes solely the existing structural differentiation within a society and between societies. Difference, by contrast, is a dynamic notion of linking structural, action-oriented, and systemic differences. It is the actions of individual and collective actors on the various levels of governance that activate the negative or positive potential of structural and systemic difference (Fuchs 2007).

Dissent and divergence are also more concrete terms than the term of difference. Dissent refers to difference of opinion as opposed to consent as congruence or similarity of opinion. By divergence we mean the process of going separate ways as opposed to convergence as a process of coming together.

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