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Stefan Heiland, Silke Spielmans, and Bernd Demuth

The article examines the relevance of demographic change for the development of rural landscapes, especially in Germany's shrinking regions. To date, no empirical investigations have undertaken the matter. Thus, the article is mainly based on literature analysis and the findings of expert workshops. The research indicates that demographic change does not have as strong impact on landscapes as other factors such as agricultural policy, climate change, and the promotion of renewable energies. Nonetheless, from the perspective of nature conservation, there might be some indirect effects caused by structural and institutional changes of administrations, which could lead to a decline in importance of landscape-related concerns. In addition, changes in environmental consciousness due to rising cultural diversity could lead to a different societal attitude toward landscapes and their values.

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Weert Canzler

Policy on transport infrastructure in Germany will come under increasing pressure thanks to considerable changes in basic conditions. Demographic change, shifts in economic and regional structures, continued social individualization, and the chronic budget crisis in the public sphere are forcing a readjustment of government action. At root, the impact of the changes in demographics and economic structures touches on what Germans themselves think their postwar democracy stands for. Highly consensual underlying assumptions about Germany as a model are being shaken. The doctrine that development of infrastructure is tantamount to growth and prosperity no longer holds. The experience in eastern Germany shows that more and better infrastructure does not automatically lead to more growth. Moreover, uniform government regulation is hitting limits. If the differences between boom regions and depopulated zones remain as large as they are, then it makes no sense to have the same regulatory maze apply to both cases. In transportation policy, that shift would mean recasting the legal foundations of public transport.

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Dieter Rink

Since about the 1980s shrinkage has become a new normality especially for European cities and urban regions. As a consequence of the shrinking process, new dimensions of wastelands appear in the affected cities. Urban planners have to find solutions for these “holes” in the urban fabric and new visions are needed for open spaces. In the last few years, the wilderness concept has emerged in the planning field and it has become a fashionable term, in particular in urban restructuring in eastern Germany. If wilderness is a usable concept for urban restructuring, can wilderness be a new structuring element for urban planning? This article analyzes the mechanisms of formation of wasteland in shrinking cities, and then focuses on related debates in urban planning as well as the debates in urban ecology and nature conservation research. The article concludes by considering different aspects of these debates and the question of which role wilderness can play in shrinking cities is discussed.

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Dagmar Haase

Whereas environmental and social impacts of urban sprawl are widely discussed among scholars from both the natural and social sciences, the spatial consequences of urban decline are nearly neglected when discussing the impacts of land transition. Within the last decade, "shrinkage" and "perforation" have arisen as new terms to explain the land use development of urban regions faced with demographic change, particularly decreasing fertility, aging, and out-migration. Although shrinkage is far from being a "desired" scenario for urban policy makers, this paper argues that a perforation of the built-up structure in dense cities might bring up many positive implications.

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Generational Transmission in Local Culture

An Exploration of European Research Drivers in Central Slovakia

Ivan Murin

This article presents some findings from the ethnography exploration of priority research in the European Research Area. The title of the priority is ‘Connecting People with Heritage’. The Old Generation and Generation Y are the drivers contained in the document’s strategic research agenda (SRA). The research has been conducted by European experts within the Joint Program Initiative in Cultural Heritage (JPI CH). Revitalisation of local society is related to sustainability of specific local forms of culture. The demographic changes, mobility and new forms of cultural transfer are only some of the phenomena affecting generational transmission in the local culture. Both generations are dissimilar in their attitudes to roles and values in the local culture. Generational interactions in a living form of intangible culture in central Slovakia exemplify its significance for anthropology.

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Embodied Liberation

The Female Reception of Oshima Nagisa's International Co-Productions

Yuta Kaminishi

Abstract

Oshima Nagisa's international co-productions, which include the pornographic film In the Realm of the Senses and the war drama with homoerotic themes Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, were noted as the emergence of his female audience. How did this reported demographic change of the audience from male-centered to female-oriented relate to sexualized bodies on screen? In their roundtable discussion about sexual liberation, feminists found emancipatory power from patriarchal society in the face of the actor who played Abe Sada. Girls praised queerness that disrupted heteronormativity in David Bowie's performance in their film reviews. Focusing on the reception of the films within feminists’ discourse and girls’ culture, this article argues that the female audience created political significance of the films by interpreting the bodies as embodied liberation.

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Helga A. Welsh

German unification prompted expectations of harmonization in political culture and promises of equivalent living conditions across the federation. Almost three decades later, the revival of narratives based on East-West differences has raised concerns whether inner unity, a term coined to describe political and material convergence across the former East-West divide, has stagnated or fallen behind. Frustration with the process of unification based on East-West contrasts, however, tends to downplay achievements and, importantly, regional diversity across the federation. I advocate a shift in perspective to the subnational (Land and communal) levels and illustrate regional variation with examples that address equivalent living conditions and demographic change. North-South differences coexist with East-West and within-region differences, suggesting not two but four or five Germanies. The eastern regions still occupy a special place in the unified Germany; they contribute to agenda setting and policy making with important implications across the federation.

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Editorial

Age and Autonomy

Anne Showstack Sassoon and Wendy Stokes

In the first, double issue of The European Journal of Social Quality, the concept of social quality was explored from a variety of perspectives, as work in progress. Continuing this endeavour, this issue focuses on ‘Age and Autonomy’. These terms are offered as starting points rather than taken for granted concepts. The discussion of the themes of independence, dependence, and interdependence in the first issue continues here with a focus on a topic which is on the political agenda throughout Europe, North America, and elsewhere: demographic changes. Increases in life expectancy and decreases in birth rates in many countries, changes – often different for men and women – in the proportion of the life cycle in formal paid work, and the longer, more active period of older age contemplated by large numbers of people are major social challenges. With regard to older people, increased activity and participation as well as the need for support and care are aspects of a complex picture that are often obscured in political debate.

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A Spectre Haunting Europe

Angela Merkel and the Challenges of Far-Right Populism

Joyce Marie Mushaben

Abstract

Germany's 2017 elections marked the first time since 1949 that a far-right party with neo-Nazi adherents crossed the 5 percent threshold, entering the Bundestag. Securing nearly 13 percent of the vote, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) impeded Chancellor Angela Merkel's ability to pull together a sustainable national coalition for nearly six months. Violating long-standing partisan taboos, the AfD “victory” is a weak reflection of national-populist forces that have gained control of other European governments over the last decade. This paper addresses the ostensible causes of resurgent ethno-nationalism across eu states, especially the global financial crisis of 2008/2009 and Merkel's principled stance on refugees and asylum seekers as of 2015. The primary causes fueling this negative resurgence are systemic in nature, reflecting the deconstruction of welfare states, shifts in political discourse, and opportunistic, albeit misguided responses to demographic change. It highlights a curious gender-twist underlying AfD support, particularly in the East, stressing eight factors that have led disproportionate numbers of middle-aged men to gravitate to such movements. It offers an exploratory treatment of the “psychology of aging” and recent neuro-scientific findings involving right-wing biases towards authoritarianism, social aggression and racism.

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Is there a link?

Japan’s internal cohesion and external conflict with neighbors

Robert W. Compton Jr.

vitality fuel an anti-foreign xenophobic nationalism in that country. Thus, the East Asian constellation has become increasingly a toxic clash of mutually exclusive nationalisms. Social demographic changes The much vaunted cheap labor comparative