The Berlin Republic: German Unification and a Decade of Changes

By Winand Gellner; John D. Robertson | Go to book overview

The 'Double' Public: Germany After Reunification

WINAND GELLNER and GERD STROHMEIER

During the process of reunification, it seemed clear to West German elites that the internalised political behaviour and culture of East Germans would wear off quickly in a reunified Germany. The idea was widespread that East Germans could be educated in the same way West Germans were after World War II-but in a far shorter period. This idea was supported by political scientists-often with reference to established theories of political culture. 1 However, since this assumption was obviously wrong, frustration about the persistence of a 'double German public', that is, the continuing split into two German sub-publics, 2 was high.

A fundamental impact on the development of this double public can be attributed to the mass media. It is surprising, though, that the role of the media after German reunification has hardly ever been studied. Whereas there are many studies on the influence of the mass media on the process of reunification in 1989/90, the assumption was that after reunification a fast normalisation of the relationship between media and politics in East Germany would take place. Ten years later, we must ask how and why the mass media have promoted the inner-German process of reunification only very modestly, why the media might even have slowed down or blocked the process and, why we have to realise that Germany still has two different publics? The following analysis addresses these questions from a historical-descriptive and an empirical-analytic perspective, referring to a theoretical approach which emphasises the impact of political culture on political communication processes.


THEORY

In several of his publications, Karl Rohe pointed to the importance of drawing the distinction between 'socio-culture' (Soziokultur) and 'interpretational culture' (Deutungskultur). Whereas socio-culture reflects the latent part of political culture and the undisputed conclusions of a cultural collective respectively, interpretational culture is characterised by a character which permanently questions foregone conclusions through

Winand Gellner and Gerd Strohmeier, University of Passau

-59-

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