Turkish immigrants in Germany and their cultural conflicts

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Indeed, Turkish Islam in Europe takes different meanings in different parts of the continent. There are mainly three types of communities. In Western Europe , especially Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands, Turks are mainly immigrants or descendants of immigrants born in these countries. Their attachment to Turkey is related to both nationalism and religion. They are framed and controlled by Turkish authorities, mostly committed to the interests of Turkey, thus forming a diaspora or at least displaying diaspora reflexes and behaviours toward Turkey. They are seen by the central authority in Turkey both as susceptible to the danger of assimilation and as potential lobbies acting in favour of Turkey.

They form a large and diverse group estimated at 4 to 5 million individuals.

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They live mainly in Bulgaria around 1 million , Greece around , and in some other former Yugoslavian areas such as Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Non-Turkish Muslim populations , descendants of other Muslim immigrant groups in Western Europe and members of Muslim minorities or majorities in the Balkans are also targets of Turkish Islam , while Turkey wants to become the champion of Sunni Islam in Europe through model building efforts and political and identity activism, but also by financing Islamic projects mainly mosques and schools.

In Western Europe, those who are perceived as Turks are not always ethnically Turks, and those who are actually ethnically and linguistically Turks are not always Sunni Muslims. Moreover, the largest religious minority of Turkey, Alevis , followers of a heterodox Islam according to some observers, or of a syncretic religion according to others, are also present in diaspora, in similar percentages.

In contrast, in former Ottoman territories, Turkishness is assimilated to Muslimness.

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However, this Muslim identity do not cover the same social realities. As is true in Turkey, large sections of Turkish minorities living in Western Europe are mostly secular. They do not follow the visible precepts of Islam or follow only its cultural and festive aspects. However, the opposite is also true, i. The actors and promoters of Turkish Islam in Europe can be divided into two different categories highly interconnected: extern from Turkey and intern the minorities.

Founded in , this public institution served as a transmission belt for centralized state policies, mainly in the nation-building process. Not only did Diyanet become one of the main framing institutions of the Diaspora, but also its scope extended well beyond solely religious affairs. The mosques depending on Diyanet in Western Europe gathered Turks loyal to Turkishness and the Turkish state in religious, linguistic, cultural, and especially nationalist activities.


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The institution also became one of the main interlocutors of Western European states that are concerned about the control of European Islam. Here, one faces an intractable paradox: on the one hand, countries like the Netherlands, France, or Germany express clear anxieties about these imams sent and paid by Turkey, who are at the service of Turkish authorities and loyal to their master. This security-oriented approach, considering European Muslims not as citizens but as potentially dangerous foreigners, is well instrumentalized by Turkish authorities that want to maintain a leading role in promoting Turkish identity and Islam in Europe.

The Strasbourg program did not work and is currently closed, but the problem seems to be that none of these young Euro-Turks wants to be an imam after graduating. In the Balkans , things are different. The Diyanet is not solely at the service of Turks but is one of the three state apparatuses in the region, alongside the Yunus Emre foundation and the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency , through which Turkey exercises a new form of soft power sometimes not very soft in the region. According to some observers Diyanet is becoming a parallel diplomatic entity in countries such as Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, or even Bosnia Herzegovina [3].

Following Berntsen and Rubin , participants were asked to provide a life script by imagining an ordinary infant of their own gender and cultural background, to write down the seven most important events that were most probably to take place in their life, and to estimate a culturally expected age for each event. Following Habermas and de Silveira , participants were then asked to write down the seven most important personal memories from their own life and to order them chronologically.

Then we asked them to narrate their life story within 15 min and to integrate these seven memories into their life narrative. Life narratives were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The text was divided into propositions, which were defined as all comprehensible main or subordinate clauses. Two bilingual coders independently divided sixteen life narratives balanced for sex and group into propositions, agreeing on The remaining life narratives were divided into propositions by one coder.

Life narratives were rated for global coherence with manuals already used in an earlier longitudinal study cf. Each of the scales was defined in a paragraph and by brief anchor definitions for each of the respective seven points. Temporal coherence shows how well a life narrative provides an overall temporal orientation to listeners. Thematic coherence refers to how much diverse individual elements of a life narrative are thematically connected.

Raters were trained by the original rater and co-author of the scale, Isabel Peters. All life narratives were rated independently by the first author and one other rater. We coded self-event connections, which link personality or personal values to specific life events. We differentiated change engendering from stability maintaining self-event connections. Pasupathi et al. We also coded six other autobiographical arguments : developmental status, biographical background, lesson learned, generalized insights, formative experience, turning points which also deal with change cf.

Habermas and Paha, ; Habermas and de Silveira, ; for the manuals see footnote 1 1. Coders were trained by the second author, who had originally written the manual. All life narratives were coded independently by the first author and one other coder. Hypotheses were tested using the frequency of specified arguments relative to the total number of propositions. All memories were coded as either negative, neutral, or positive by two coders.

Disagreements in all ratings and codings were resolved by discussion.

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We averaged the individual life scripts provided by each group to establish four shared cultural life scripts for more details cf. This score is termed life script typicality score Bohn and Berntsen, Resulting scores can range from 0 to Here, we use life script conformity as an indicator of interdependent versus individualistic orientation.

We start by describing differences in life narratives between groups. We first test group differences of coherence and autobiographical reasoning, to then test a possible mediating role of conformity, i. With multiple dependent variables, we first ran a multivariate and then follow-up univariate tests with linear contrasts. We also report descriptive correlations. Finally we explore the impact of the valence of events in life narratives. Mean duration was To provide a sense of the qualitative differences between the four groups, we listed in Table 3 the frequency with which life events were named among the seven most important memories before being told as part of the life narratives.

The kinds of most important life events support the idea that culture affects the way we tell our lives by influencing which events are deemed biographically salient to be included in the life story. Table 3. The religious rite de passage circumcision was specific for the Turkish German group, possibly reflecting the importance of religion in a bi-cultural context.

Turkish immigrants in Germany and their cultural conflicts

However, also the German group mentioned religious rites de passage, baptism and confirmation. Interestingly, traveling and secondary school were the items shared only by the two Frankfurt groups among the most important memories. These commonalities may reflect the integration of two cultures for Turkish Germans and the role of the national educational system. We expected less global coherence and change related autobiographical reasoning in provincial Turks than in urban Turks and Turkish Germans, than in urban Germans, respectively.

For global coherence, we first ran a MANOVA with all three aspects as dependent variables and group and gender as factors. Possible gender differences were explored and will be reported only if significant. Figure 1. Figure 2. In our life story theory, we postulate that autobiographical arguments are instrumental in creating life narrative coherence, change-engendering arguments supporting primarily causal-motivational coherence and stability-maintaining arguments supporting thematic coherence Habermas and Bluck, ; Habermas, In the present study, however, we could only replicate the correlation between causal-motivational coherence and change-engendering arguments.

In addition thematic coherence correlated with change-engendering arguments, and temporal coherence negatively with stability maintaining self-event connections see Table 4.

From Spain to Turkey, the rise of the far right is a clash of cultures not civilisations

Comparison of within-group correlations generally showed patterns consistent with the across-group correlations. Only the group of Germans resembled the earlier findings in a different German sample, causal-motivational coherence correlating both with other autobiographical arguments and change-engendering self-event connections. This speaks for cultural influences on these correlational patterns. Table 4.


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Correlations of life narrative coherence with autobiographical arguments, change-engendering, and stability-maintaining self-event connections. By adding life script conformity as an additional continuous predictor to the model that tested Hypothesis 1, we tested how much individual conformity actually correlated with life narrative coherence as well as how much this reduced the predictive power of group membership.

This would signal the expected role of conformity as mediating the influence of group differences.

As expected, conformity correlated negatively with all three aspects of life narrative coherence Table 5. Correlations with autobiographical reasoning were as expected negative for change-engendering arguments, but near-absent for the other two arguments. Within-group correlations showed the same pattern.

We tested a possible mediating role of conformity Hypothesis 2 only for the dependent variables with a substantial correlation with conformity. Table 5. Correlations of life script conformity and life narrative negativity with life story coherence, and autobiographical arguments, change-engendering, and stability-maintaining self-event connections. Thus group differences in life narrative coherence were substantially, but not totally mediated by life script conformity. Thus cultural conformity, as measured by life script typicality, clearly served as a mediator between group and life narrative coherence and change-engendering self-event connections, leaving some of the linear group effect on coherence to be accounted for.

To explore the unexpected results regarding group differences in other autobiographical arguments and their missing links with life narrative coherence, we conducted a series of exploratory analyses. They were based on the idea that a higher proportion of negative life events might require more autobiographical reasoning in the attempt to integrate them into the life story without necessarily succeeding yet.

Such an initially still unsuccessful increase in autobiographical reasoning was termed attempt at meaning making by Park To check our coding of the valence of memories, we compared it with the valence rated by other participants in the larger sample cf. Most events were evaluated similarly.

Differences were noticeable regarding moving, which we coded as positive throughout, but was rated ambivalently by Germans and as mostly neutral to positive by Turkish participants, and regarding leaving home, which was rated positively by Germans, but ambivalently by the three Turkish groups.

However, in this study moving was not named by the Germans, and leaving home was named almost exclusively by the Germans, so that these differences probably did not affect the group differences in negativity. Figure 3. To explore whether more negative events evoked higher degrees of autobiographical reasoning as a part of the process of working through negative events, we calculated correlations Table 5. The proportion of negative events correlated only minimally with any of the autobiographical arguments. Only temporal coherence correlated significantly and negatively with the negativity of the seven most important memories.

To test the relative weight of conformity and negativity for explaining group differences in temporal coherence, we ran an ANOVA with group and gender as the two factors and conformity and negativity as continuous predictors. Negativity did not contribute significantly, and group and conformity remained significant predictors. The aim of this study was to take a closer look at the role of cultural and subcultural differences in life narrative coherence and autobiographical arguments and at their relation to the degree of cultural conformity.

It is the first study of life narratives across cultures and subcultures, following calls for the cultural contextualization of psychosocial identity in the narrative identity tradition Seaman et al. We will first discuss results regarding life narrative coherence and autobiographical arguments and the mediating role of life script conformity, then possible reasons for and consequences of the more frequent mentioning of negative events in Turkish life narratives, to finally note limitations and spell out implications of our findings.