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Xenophobia and Violence in Germany 1990 to 2000

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 26 Issue: 2 Dated: Fall 2002 Pages: 231-246
Roland Eckert
Date Published
16 pages
This article discusses xenophobic attitudes in Germany.
Quantitative data from studies from 1997 and 2000 demonstrate that xenophobic attitudes are not limited to Germany. People in Germany have neither high levels of negative attitudes towards foreigners nor are they especially tolerant and open-minded. Xenophobic attitudes have changed over time. Insisting that immigrants should adjust to German culture, claiming that foreigners should leave the country in periods of unemployment, demanding that foreigners not be politically active, and opposing marriages of mixed nationalities are all characteristics of xenophobic people. The increase of xenophobic attitudes, caused by the immigration conflict in the early 1990's was followed by a decline in the second half of the 1990's. According to the Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik Staatschutz (PKS-S), which gives an overview of incidents of criminal acts in the 1980's and 1990's, there was a striking increase of extremist right-wing, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic crime during this time period. Most xenophobic suspects were young males, unemployed, and uneducated. The probability of developing xenophobic attitudes was twice as high in East Germany as in West Germany. Lack of care, inappropriate care, and parental violence during childhood are risk factors correlating with the development of xenophobic attitudes during adolescence. It is concluded that problems in family socialization can generate stronger prejudices and a propensity to violence. The cognitive dissonance caused by the settlement of strangers is higher in smaller towns and villages than in urban areas. Under conditions of rising unemployment and a high level of immigration, competition between Germans and immigrants may cause Germans to feel that there is a need to protect their nation from further immigration. Under these circumstances, prejudice and the willingness to use violence may become prevalent. 7 figures, 7 notes, 22 references


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