The Image of the Stranger - On the Symbolic Construction of Conflicts over Islamic Spatial Symbols

Germany, like other Western European countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain, experiences significant conflicts over Islamic spatial symbols. Although these develop in response to local mosque-building projects, their impact often extends far beyond the directly affected zone of the immediate neighbourhood. Ingroup/outgroup conflicts are manifested in internal conflicts within the majority society, where civil society initiatives rally to defend the fundamental freedom of religion against the critics of mosque-building projects (who in turn find support among intellectuals within the migrant community who espouse a radical critique of Islam). Where both sides claim universalistic norms the field of conflict becomes increasingly confused. This research project investigates structures of meaning in conflict communication concerning Islamic spatial symbols. The aim is to create a sociological hermeneutics for this conflict type (focusing on the actor groups of the majority society). A hermeneutical analysis of the classification, justification and interpretation operations occurring in conflict will reconstruct the actors? images of self and other in relation to normative concepts of order and world views. Four local case studies will be conducted to take into account the differential contextual conditions and their effects on conflict communication. The project deploys several methodological approaches: document analysis and surveys using problem-centered narrative and discursive interviews. Analysis is orientated on grounded theory, supplemented for selected key texts by sequential analysis.
01.06.2011 - 31.05.2014
External funding
Prof. Dr. W. Heitmeyer
Dr. Armin Steil
Dipl. Soz.wiss. Kerstin Palloks
Organizations involved
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence
Funded by
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)