The Carriers of Diversity within the Police Forces: A “Weberian” Approach to Diversity in Germany

in German Politics and Society
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Cultural diversity has been one the most pressing challenges to present-

day Germany. Issues of diversity and, its corollary from the perspective

of the recipient society, the practice of toleration—as opposed

to the personal attitude of tolerance—are being paradigmatically

debated around the fate of Muslims. Although not new, Muslims

presence and public claims, such as the claim for legal recognition of

Islam and religious instruction in public schools, have undoubtedly

raised the issue of diversity anew. Some recent events, such as the

“Ludin case,” a German teacher of Afghan descent who fought the

federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg to wear a hijab in class, is a telling

example (see Beverly Weber’s article examining the case in this issue

of German Politics and Society). Similarly to the debate raging over

headscarves in France, this case seems to point to the “Muslim” as an

important figure of the stranger, understood as symbol of group

mediation, of the group’s inner and outer boundaries.1 But, unlike the

headscarf affair in France, where pupils are at the center stage of the

debate, the case of teachers in Germany bears witness to a different

type of stranger as outlined by Simmel in terms of spatial and symbolic

position within the group. Indeed, he/she is a stranger “from

within.”2 As such, Muslim growing and enduring presence in Germany

showcases practical problems encountered with the “management

of diversity” within some state institutions. Looking at the assessment of these dilemmas not only points to conflicting normative

models of social organization, but also puts in the hot seat those

who, to paraphrase Dubet, carry out le travail sur autrui (“work on the

other”), professionals activities, which aim at explicitly transforming

the “stranger.”

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