1 RWE Identity 1 appears in: B. Klandermans & N. Mayer (Eds.), Through the magnifying glass: The world of extreme right activists. Routledge Chapter 12 IDENTITY IN GERMAN RIGHT-WING EXTREMISM: LEVELS, FUNCTIONS, AND PROCESSES Bernd Simon & Ludger Klein July 2004
2 RWE Identity 2 Identity in German Right-Wing Extremism: Levels, Functions, and Processes Right-wing extremism is a collective phenomenon. Like most, if not at all, political behavior, it takes place in the context of social groups or structured systems of social groups. Right-wing extremists, irrespective of whether or not they are members of formal organizations, do not act as isolated individuals. Instead, they share their right-wing extremist ideas and actions with other people or groups of other people, while at the same time they express their ideas and perform their actions in opposition to still other groups. These ideas and actions thus reflect and reinforce right-wing extremists' embeddedness in a system of ingroup-outgroup relations. In other words, they reflect and reinforce right-wing extremists' collective place or identity in the social world. Consequently, we put forward the working hypothesis that right-wing extremism cannot fully be understood without a proper social psychological analysis of the role of collective identity. Scholars of social psychology have long acknowledged the causal role of collective identity in social perception and behavior (e.g., Tajfel and Turner 1979, 1986) and there is a solid body of empirical evidence that corroborates the role of collective identity as an explanatory variable. For example, the concept of collective identity helps researchers to predict when and to understand why people stereotype themselves and others, discriminate against outgroups in favor of ingroups, and accept influence from ingroup members, but reject influence from outgroup members (for reviews, see Brown and Gaertner 2001). It has also been shown that collective identity influences people's justice concerns (Tyler and Smith 1999) and their willingness to engage in social protest as well as in other collective activities that aim at social change (De Weerd and Klandermans 1999; Simon et al. 1998; Simon 2004). In this chapter, we draw on social psychological theorizing and research to develop a collective identity perspective on right-wing extremism that throws additional light on the findings of the collaborative research project discussed in the various chapters of this volume.
3 RWE Identity 3 The remainder of this chapter is divided into five major sections. In the first section, we present a social psychological definition of collective identity together with the guidelines for the development of a topography of right-wing extremist collective identity (RWE identity). In the second section, we discuss important social psychological functions of collective identity, in general, and RWE identity, in particular. In the third section, we focus on the processes that operate in the service of these identity functions. In the fourth section, RWE collective identity is further specified as an instance of politicized collective identity. In the final section, we summarize our collective identity perspective and its contributions to a better understanding of right-wing extremism. Throughout the entire chapter, we seek to illustrate our main points by drawing on 25 semistructured interviews conducted in the context of German right-wing extremism. The majority of the interviewees were members of the right-wing extremist political party "Die Republikaner" (The Republicans), a smaller sub-group consisted of members of the editorial board of a right-wing (extremist) magazine, one interviewee was an employee and sympathizer, but not a member, of "Die Republikaner", and finally one interviewee was a former member of another German right-wing extremist political party as well as several militant right-wing extremist groups. Nineteen interviewees were male and six were female, with ages ranging from 22 to 78 years. The interviews were conducted by the second author and introduced as part of a European research project on political activism and lasted between 50 and 200 minutes. (for further details, see Lafont, Linden and Klein, this volume). Despite its focus on the German case, the perspective developed in this chapter has also been substantially informed and improved by the expert knowledge about their particular countries of the other contributors to the collaborative research project. We are thus confident that, notwithstanding important historical, political, economic, and possibly cultural differences among countries or nations, the theoretical significance of the proffered perspective extends beyond the German context.
4 RWE Identity 4 Definition and Topography of Collective Identity In the most basic social psychological sense, identity is a place in the social world. A place is a metaphorical expression and stands for any position on any socially relevant dimension such as nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, trait, attitude, and so forth (Simon 1999). In contrast to individual identity ("I" or "me"), collective identity ("we" or "us") is a place that is shared with a group of other people. It is thus a more inclusive identity (Turner et al. 1987). Note that "collective identity" is employed in this analysis as a (social) psychological concept and not as a sociological concept in a Durkheimian sense (Durkheim, 1895/1976; Rucht 1995). That is, collective identity in the present sense is the identity of a person as a member of a more inclusive collective, not the identity of a collective as a sui generis entity. It is collective in the sense that the person shares the source of his or her identity (i.e., a particular place or group membership in the social world) and hence also the ensuing identity with other people. Especially in modern society, people have access to multiple places in the social world. These places are typically shared with other people, but not necessarily with exactly the same group of other people. As a consequence, there is a potential for multiple, partly overlapping or crosscutting and even conflicting collective identities. However, not all the collective identities of a person are salient at the same time. Which specific collective identity becomes salient while the others remain dormant, depends on which socially shared place moves into the psychological foreground, and this is, in turn, a joint function of person variables (e.g., personal needs, goals, prior experiences) and social context variables (e.g., common fate, the ratio of intragroup to intergroup similarities, the presence of a salient outgroup) (Oakes, Haslam and Turner 1994; Simon 1999). Similarly, stability of collective identity depends on the stability of these antecedent variables (Onorato and Turner 2001).
5 RWE Identity 5 Just as the shared place or group membership from which a collective identity derives is embedded in a comprehensive web of places or group memberships, so is the particular collective identity embedded in a web of other collective identities. This web can be conceived of as having both a horizontal and vertical dimension. The horizontal dimension reflects the fact that people typically define and evaluate their collective identity in contrast to the collective identity of an outgroup (e.g., males vs. females, Germans vs. Americans, conservatives vs. liberals). The vertical dimension reflects the insight that collective identities can be construed at different levels of abstraction related by means of class inclusion (Turner et al. 1987). A particular collective identity is nested in a more inclusive collective identity that is shared with a larger group of people. This more inclusive collective identity is shared also with people who, from the perspective of the original (less inclusive) collective identity, would be regarded as outgroup members. For instance, the collective identity as a resident of the city of Berlin is nested in the more inclusive collective identity as a German citizen which includes also residents of the city of Hamburg. Although the more inclusive collective identity recedes into the psychological background once a particular (less inclusive) collective identity has become salient, the former still serves as the frame of reference for comparisons between (the less inclusive) ingroup and outgroup and thus also for the evaluation of the salient collective identity (Rosch 1978; Turner et al. 1987). For example, given a person s salient collective identity as a resident of Berlin, he or she is likely to compare residents of Berlin with, and evaluate them in comparison with, residents of Hamburg (or any other major German city) on attributes that characterize German citizens in general (e.g., efficient). Drawing on both the horizontal and vertical dimension, it is thus possible to map out a particular collective identity and its context. In short, we can develop a topography of the collective identity. A topography of RWE identity
6 RWE Identity 6 The participants that were interviewed for the research reported in this book were mostly highly engaged members of specific right-wing extremist political parties or organizations. More specifically, the majority of interviewees in the German sample were members of the right-wing extremist political party "Die Republikaner" (Minkenberg 1992; Westle and Niedermayer 1992). Accordingly, we use that party membership as the starting point to illustrate a possible topography of RWE identity. The critical components of this topography are summarized in Figure Insert Figure 1 about here Overall the interviews confirmed that the party members saw themselves and their party as part of the political right wing, though not necessarily as part of the extreme right (see Klein and Simon, this volume). For example, when rating himself on a left-right scale, one interviewee (Karl, m, 26 1 ) summarized the political spectrum in Germany as follows 2 : "I would say in the middle there is the SPD/CDU, one step further to the right is the CSU, another step further to the right is the Bund Freier Bürger or DSU, then us and then it would continue with NPD, DVU and so forth." 3 Other interviewees were particularly eager to demarcate their party from other parties or organizations within the German right-wing extremist spectrum. One interviewee (Britta, f, 44) explained: "We also have the NPD and all other ultra-rightists who should be mentioned as well, because they... All that is mixed in the same pot, intentionally. That's the problem. They are not a democratic party anymore. We are the only right-wing democratic party." And Angela (f, 35) claimed:
7 RWE Identity 7 "We also work on problems that exist today. For instance, when we think about family politics today or... as far as tax reform is concerned or that we stand up for issues, that differentiates us very clearly from the DVU." These demarcations and comparative evaluations clearly reflect the horizontal dimension of collective identity as a "Republikaner". The mention of other right-wing extremist political parties as relevant comparison groups also involves the vertical dimension of collective identity in that it points to the importance of the shared, more inclusive RWE identity as a frame of reference. Explicit contrasts with the "left-wing camp" are another, more direct indicator of the involvement of the vertical dimension and the importance of the more inclusive RWE identity. Such contrasts involve a variety of groups including former sympathizers of the students' movement of 1968, the Green Party ("Die Grünen"), communists, the PDS (Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus = Party of the Democratic Socialism), and to some extent also the liberal press and other media. For example, August (m, 40) commented: "Basically, considering the present spectrum of political parties, every political party is an opponent, for me personally especially the Green Party." Eduard (m, 50) remarked: "Well, my personal opponents are and still remain the communists. In this respect, I am unable to change, because... also the development of the PDS clearly follows the path of the communists, that is really, well they are my explicit opponents. I wouldn't say enemies, but they are opponents." And Heinrich (m, 78) stressed: "What is also very important, the mass media are against us. And that is something that is very bad in Germany. I don't know whether it's the same in other countries. The mass media have too much power."
8 RWE Identity 8 However, clearly the most consistent theme that we could extract from the interviews is the national perspective which moves us further up the vertical dimension of collective identity. The national perspective was shared by almost all 25 interviewees. The only exception was Hermann, the ex-member of the other right-wing extremist party who had already publicly turned away from right-wing extremism. He did not provide any detailed answers to questions concerning the personal importance of Germany because he found this issue "not so interesting". Conversely, all other interviewees highlighted their "German" standpoint in one way or another. It served them as an anchor for self-definition and identity and provided direction for their political attitudes and activities. Britta (f, 44) expressed the national perspective very clearly: "The most important goals and ideas is first of all, I say, to represent and to defend my fatherland; to defend in so far, well, to be allowed as a German to show my nationality, my national consciousness, my patriotism, and also to be allowed to live it. This is number one for me." The other interviewees made similar comments. For example, Franz (m, 41): "And therefore, the basic idea underlying this entire political orientation is that one, well that the established parties or the left entirely negate the nation-state and say: 'That is something that is dissolving, that plays no role anymore, we now have to think globally and so forth.' And I say, this is a disastrous development.... this is the basic idea from which you can deduce everything, that I say, for me the nation Germany has value." And Ute (f, 63): "Well, first of all, if I shall say it very clearly, Germany and German interests first." Or Armin (m, 32): "That is, when I say we have to repair this social structure, to re-build it, to deliberately care for the persons, the people, the individuals as such, then this refers in the first place only to Germans. And the surroundings abroad or the rest of the world is secondary."
9 RWE Identity 9 Occasionally, interviewees even favored the attribute "national" or "national-conservative" over the attribute "right-wing" in self-description, most likely in order to escape negative stigmatization. National identity was also expressed by way of outgroup rejection. More specifically, immigrants, asylum seekers, or other foreigners were often construed as a problem for, or even a threat to, Germany. For example, Richard (m, 49) proclaimed: "Our party has to serve the interests of the indigenous population. It is certainly the first obligation that we say: So, we must do somewhat more for our fellow citizens than for asylum seekers or false asylum seekers. For it has been proven that of those who are asylum seekers here, only a fraction are or will finally be admitted as such." Similarly, Beate (f, 58) declared: "...we must not let in all and everyone, especially because we also import criminality." Eduard (m, 50) complained: "I become extremely angry when I hear today from young Turks or the Turkish community: 'We have re-built Germany.' Because I know very well who re-built Germany, it was my grand-father. And he worked very hard till he was 86 and could not enjoy life very much.... Our old people re-built Germany." And Ute (f, 63) recalled: "And my mother used to say, when it started with the family re-unions [of foreigners] and so on: 'You will see' she said very clearly 'we will not get rid of them any more.' After all, they were called guest workers. And guest workers means for me, you go home again after some time. And then it started with the family re-unions." The high accessibility of national identity and the national perspective seemed to be grounded at least partly in the interviewees' personal experiences and histories (Turner et al. 1987). The biographical data revealed that many interviewees saw themselves or their close relatives as innocent victims of German history. Several of the interviewees had personally been expelled from then-german regions in the wake of World War II or were immediate descendants of
10 RWE Identity 10 such expellees, while many others were negatively affected personally or vicariously through close relatives by the post-war totalitarian regime in the former German Democratic Republic (e.g., by the Berlin Wall). Overall, national identity as a German served as the most important (self-)definitional frame for our interviewees. Relative to national identity, all other less inclusive levels of identity were presented as secondary. They seemed to serve merely an instrumental function. In line with this view, several interviewees explicitly acknowledged that they had engaged in rather systematic searches for information about different political parties and had considered or even tried alternative party memberships before they eventually joined "Die Republikaner". For example, several interviewees reported that before they joined "Die Republikaner" they had been sympathizers or even members of conservative parties such as CDU or CSU, but then turned away from them because of disappointment with these parties' lenient politics toward the regime in the GDR (e.g., when it became known in the early 1980s that the former chairperson of CSU Franz-Josef Strauß had engineered financial support for the GDR). Hence, party membership in "Die Republikaner" was often the result of an informed, rational choice which may be revised should this party membership fail to meet the interviewee's expectations. Thus Silke (f, 56) confirmed that party membership "is really a tool for something. Because otherwise you can't do anything, you are totally helpless. You can do it only through a party in a democratic system. The party is like a tool for me, to form something and to exert influence." This rational or instrumental attitude toward party membership resonates with reports that close interpersonal relationships and friendships typically were the consequence rather than the precursor of party membership. For example, Ute (f, 63) reported: "Actually, I have won friends through the party. It's always nice when you are together with people, when you have this conviction, when you are together with people, this binds
11 RWE Identity 11 together, people who have the same opinions, even though sometimes there may be some differences, don t you think?" Franz (m, 41) recalled a similar experience: "At first, I didn't really have any friends in the party. I might have had party friends, but no friends, only had friends outside the party. And now I would say, I have perhaps what one calls friends, a quarter of my friends outside the party and meanwhile almost three quarters of friends in the party. It happens automatically if you do so much together with them." August (m, 40) summarized his experience as follows: "Party colleagues they are, friends they will be." He continued: "It is the precondition that I am able to do a successful job.... The better the relationship among Republicans, the more successfully we can work and the higher the motivation." Occasionally, intra-party friendship was also referred to as comradeship, and even compared to comradeship among soldiers, to underline its importance or instrumental value for social validation, mutual support, and successful cooperation. Circles of friends within the party thus emerged as important stabilizing interpersonal (intragroup) contexts which seemed to provide party members with a lower level collective identity as comrades. However, like the more inclusive collective identity as "Republikaner" or the even more inclusive RWE identity, this lower level collective identity was subsumed under the most inclusive national identity. The latter served not only as the logically superordinate frame of reference, but also provided all lower level collective identities with content and meaning. In fact, the collective identities depicted in Figure 1 seemed to be almost perfectly related by means of class inclusion, and collective identity at a given level of inclusiveness (e.g., "Republikaner") was interpreted by the interviewees as the prototypical, if not ideal, instantiation of their collective identity at the next more inclusive level (e.g., "German"). Functions of RWE Identity
12 RWE Identity 12 Proper appreciation of collective identity as an explanatory social psychological construct requires an understanding of what collective identity does for the person. In other words, we need to understand the social psychological functions of collective identity. More specifically, collective identity is assumed to serve a particular identity function to the extent to which it provides the person with a psychological experience (e.g., a feeling of belongingness) that promotes his or her social adjustment or well-being. In this sense, identity functions contribute to the attractiveness and thus to the adoption and maintenance of collective identity. This should be true especially for identity functions that relate to basic psychological needs. We will now discuss five possible identity functions which seem particularly relevant in the present context and for which psychological literature suggests that they may indeed be related to basic psychological needs, namely, the needs for belongingness, distinctiveness, respect, understanding (or meaning), and agency (Baumeister and Leary 1995; Brewer 1991; Fiske 2000; Maslow 1970; E. R. Smith and Mackie 1995; Tajfel and Turner 1986). Belongingness Collective identity confirms that one has a place in the social world. What is more, it emphasizes that one shares such a place with other people. One is thus part of and belongs to the collective place. As suggested by the topography depicted in Figure 1, RWE identity can fulfill the belongingness function at different levels. More specifically, in the German case collective identity as a "Republikaner" reflects belongingness to a political party. At the same time, by virtue of its embeddedness in the more inclusive right-wing spectrum or camp, this party membership also confers a more inclusive RWE identity and thus belongingness to an even more widely shared place. And, to the extent to which both collective identity as a "Republikaner" and the more inclusive RWE identity are construed as prototypical, if not ideal, instantiations of German identity, belongingness can be claimed at an even higher level
13 RWE Identity 13 of inclusiveness, namely belongingness to the entire German nation ("Heimat"). Accordingly, Bernhard (m, 22) explained: "And the last point, the last kick, what made me join [the party] was the hope to move something in my country or, yes, in my fatherland. Even though this expression may again sound right-wing extremist, but it's simply true, this is my home... It is the place where I live, where I dwell, where I was born, where I was raised; and hence these close ties with my home ['Heimatverbundenheit']." Among our interviewees, the belongingness function was also served by collective identity that was located at the lower end of the (vertical) inclusiveness dimension. Here, circles of friends within the party were viewed as a more exclusive, but still collective, place to which one belonged. For example, Ute (f, 63) stated: "I have actually won friends through the party.... And of course there is such a feeling of togetherness. Although I wouldn't be friends with everyone, you know. But I... simply feel close ties with them, without seeing each other a lot." Finally, the temporal aspect of belongingness deserves attention. That is, the belongingness function can also be served by pointing out the continuity of one s collective identity over time. Long-term party membership is helpful in this respect, but not necessary. In fact, as discussed above, the interviewees actually construed changes in their party memberships as evidence for the temporal continuity of their right-wing or at least conservative attitude and political orientation and thus laid claim to an enduring collective identity or stable belongingness to a collective place. The high interest of many interviewees in German history or the high personal importance they attributed to German history (e.g., Prussia, World War II, expulsion of Germans in the wake of WWII, post-war economic re-construction, politics concerning GDR, the Berlin Wall, German "re-union") can be interpreted along similar lines. It reflects their attempts to anchor Germany s place in time and history so that national identity can better serve the belongingness function. Accordingly, Bernhard (m, 22) claimed:
14 RWE Identity 14 "It begins sometime in the early Middle Ages, and it goes on till today. I mean, those are things which strictly speaking do not concern me anymore. But there is still this connection that I can say: My ancestors were, who live here the same way, they have achieved this. Other nations have simply not achieved this." Distinctiveness Collective identity defines not only where one belongs, but also where one belongs not. It does not only reflect who one is, but also who one is not. Thus collective identity as a "Republikaner" allowed the interviewees to highlight their distinctiveness vis-à-vis members or supporters of left-wing parties (e.g., SPD, Die Grünen), but also vis-à-vis members and supporters of other right-wing extremist parties within the right-wing camp (e.g., DVU, NPD). As illustrated above, the interviewees mentioned concrete political issues on which they saw disagreement with other parties (e.g., family politics or tax reform), but they also highlighted the party's distinctiveness on more abstract dimensions such as idealism combined with patriotism. For example, Karl (m, 26) noted: "It's idealism... I don't know whether the other parties have so much idealism or whether they see it the same way. I almost believe, that's less or so." Similarly, Klaus (m, 48) remarked: "Well, I would call it patriotic idealism, that exists among Republicans, about which one does not need to talk much, but it is simply and naturally there... I have not experienced it like this anywhere else." And Albert (m, 28) stated: "The party differs that really matters it differs from other parties in that it approves of the nation; the nation as historical reality." The party's distinctiveness was thus derived from its perceived uniqueness as the best representative and advocate of the German nation. The German nation itself was also
15 RWE Identity 15 portrayed as a distinct collective place which differs from other nations in terms of economic and cultural achievements because "[o]ther nations have simply not achieved this" (Bernhard, m, 22). Although occasionally the distinctiveness of a more inclusive RWE identity is highlighted through comparisons with the left-wing camp, party identity and national identity clearly emerged as the principal and closely interrelated sources of distinctiveness. Respect In addition to confirming that there is a place in the social world to which one belongs, collective identity also promises that one is respected there. Collective identity signals that one shares a collective place with, and is therefore similar to, other people, though not all other people. Consequently, collective identity implies that one can expect to be respected at least by these similar others which is, in turn, conducive to self-respect and self-esteem. The respect function of collective identity further gains in importance when groups feel stigmatized as was the case for our interviewees "because from outside one is demonized somehow by the media and so" (Ute, f, 63). Thus, Beate (f, 58) could say: "And through the appreciation of others, especially others in the party, I started to develop a certain self-esteem." The feeling of being stigmatized also extended to the level of national identity. Germany was seen as the victim of disrespectful treatment and exploitation from outside, and it was suspected that Germany's role in World War II was instrumentalized by other nations to justify this mistreatment of the entire German nation so that, according to Britta (f, 44), "wherever we go, we apparently cannot walk with our heads up." Britta further complained that the German nation foolishly accepts this mistreatment: "And that is also something I consider a danger; but it has been going on for some time, that the world laughs at this nation Germany. Because they must gloat over this and say: 'How stupid they are that they let everybody exploit them like this.' That is, we are really stupid."
16 RWE Identity 16 Accordingly, an important political goal of the interviewees was to provide Germans with a national identity again that could serve as a source of national respect and pride. Britta declared that the most important goal for her was: "to be allowed as German to show my nationality, my national consciousness, my patriotism, and also to be allowed to live it." Similarly, Albert (m, 28) elaborated: "And where I found my party vindicated was during the soccer world cup, yes? Suddenly I saw so many allies, I suddenly saw people... I always admired the smallest states where, how passionately young people or people in general sang the national anthem together, young beautiful women painted with national colors, and with a national enthusiasm, singing the national anthem with great passion. It is not aggression, it is an expression of love. It is an expression of togetherness. It is dedication. It is something great. And it is nothing aggressive and nothing evil. For this, to maintain this, that's what the Republicans stand for, like no other party in Germany." In conclusion, collective identity as "Die Republikaner" seemed to be viewed as the germ out of which national identity as well as national pride and respect could develop for all Germans. Understanding Collective identity as a place in the social world also provides a perspective on the social world from which this world and one's own place in it can be interpreted and understood. Moreover, because this perspective is socially shared, it is socially validated and meaningful (Festinger 1954). The understanding function of collective identity is particularly apparent in the political arena where political opponents reason and argue about social and political issues, their causes and consequences, and about the right way to deal with them. Collective identity supplies socially validated standpoints and guidelines for thinking and arguing about
17 RWE Identity 17 such issues. These standpoints and guidelines are sometimes explicitly codified in texts such as a party program, but they can also be part and parcel of more informal and implicit collective representations, norms, or ideologies. One interviewee (Albert, m, 28) nicely summarized this point with respect to his party "Die Republikaner." He stated: "... it is this what really differentiates the party, really differentiates fundamentally, that you... really get the relationship between family, woman, children, and state, that everything is connected in a certain way, formulated and transformed into a political program. This is very important, this is very important." More specifically, the party perspective comprised definitions of problems, socially shared explanations, attributions of responsibility, and implications for problem solving concerning issues such as immigration, unemployment, and crime which were typically presented as threats to the German population. For example, when describing the circumstances of his entry into the party "Die Republikaner," Richard (m, 49) explained: "Also, the former slogan [of the party] 'The boat is full', already immigration was going on then, although in different numbers. And one increasingly saw the problem of asylum seekers in Germany." And August (m, 40) proposed that the perspective of "Die Republikaner" allowed for a superior understanding of the political situation in Germany: "Well, I am convinced that 95% of the citizens in Germany do not have a comprehensive picture of the real and current democracy in our country.... It must be one of the first goals to inform the population, the citizens where we stand politically, what we want, what our goals are... and that we miss not a single opportunity to explain the real dangers for our democracy to our citizens." It should be noted that we do not maintain here that such shared perspectives necessarily reflect deficient thinking, cognitive laziness, or passive acceptance of official party lines on
18 RWE Identity 18 the part of right-wing extremists. On the contrary, the shared perspectives that became visible in the interviews often reflected an active, effortful, and sophisticated cognitive elaboration and validation of the collective worldview and self-understanding. The interviewees also indicated that interpersonal exchanges with others who shared the party or RWE identity, especially with the inner circle of friends, facilitated the elaboration and validation processes and thus the production of understanding and meaning. Accordingly, Albert (m, 28) acknowledged: "The advantages are... that you are together with people who have the same political perspective... But I have people who go with me in this direction. And you participate. That is really the nice thing that you have people with whom you can talk." Agency Collective identity signals that one is not alone but can count on the social support and solidarity of other ingroup members. Consequently, as a group, one can be a much more powerful and efficacious social agent. As with the understanding function discussed above, the agency function should also be particularly relevant in the political arena where people try to exert influence and engage in a power struggle to reach their goals. Indeed, collective identity as a "Republikaner" was associated with the wish and felt responsibility to do something about "problems," such as immigration and unemployment, as well as with the expectation that one could actually do something about them. Although collective identity as a "Republikaner" did not seem to serve the agency function by promising that the party solutions will be accepted by society some time soon, there was nevertheless the hope that by acting in terms of this collective identity, in the long run, one may eventually be able to affect society or large segments of it. For example, when asked about the personal importance of his party membership, Karl (m, 26) answered:
19 RWE Identity 19 "For me, it means at the moment to get something done together with people with whom I get along well, with people from whom I can learn something, to get something off the ground together... And something that is meaningful in my opinion, you know?" Albert (m, 28) stated: "I don't say that we have found the philosophers' stone, nor will we re-invent the wheel. Those are not our intentions. But in certain contexts and certain political developments, we can from our side I believe contribute something and influence something." Franz (m, 41) formulated a similar hope: "Perhaps overall our party can move something some day. One does not know that yet, that is not clear yet. But I don't feel so powerless... I simply feel that I have this feeling and as long as I still have this feeling, it is not hopeless. Thus, I can perhaps through my involvement, together with the involvement of many others, still perhaps influence the political orientation in Germany." And Beate (f, 58) was hoping to influence the youth: "And we shouldn't be surprised that the youth get increasingly impatient. However, they do not understand the reasons yet because they have been indoctrinated very differently. But some day, one day it will surface, then they will wake up." Finally, even one's unsuccessful attempts to exert influence and to change the course of events were expected to confer recognition as a social agent on oneself. In this connection, Ute (f, 63) drew a grotesque parallel: "Well, I always tell myself, my son can, if everything really goes downhill, my son can say my mother did something, yes? Like it was also always said in the past: 'Why didn t you do anything?' I mean, concerning the Nazis. The parents were then blamed for that. And well, our son, in this respect, our son cannot blame us for anything, neither me nor my husband, yes? Nor do the two of us need to blame ourselves. We really do a lot, as we see it."
20 RWE Identity 20 Processes of RWE Identity Social psychological literature suggests four important processes that operate in the service of the identity functions discussed above. These are (self-)stereotyping, conformity, prejudice, and discrimination (Simon and Klandermans 2001). These processes are spurred by collective identification and in turn help collective identity to better fulfill its functions. We will briefly discuss the relevance of each of the four processes for right-wing extremism. (Self-)stereotyping Social psychological research has shown that stereotyping of self and others is a typical cognitive outcome of identification with a group or collective. Once a particular collective identity is adopted, people ascribe attributes that they consider typical of the ingroup to their fellow group members as well as to themselves and ascribe attributes that they consider typical of the outgroup to outgroup members. In addition, they accentuate intragroup similarities and intergroup differences so that both ingroup and outgroup are homogenized and simultaneously differentiated from each other (Oakes et al. 1994; Simon and Hamilton 1994). As a result, the self is unmistakably located in a distinct ingroup, and both the belongingness and distinctiveness functions are served. Moreover, the content of the underlying (self-)stereotypes typically reflects and endorses the social reality as perceived and understood by group members. Accordingly, the understanding function is served as well. (Self-)stereotyping was also observed in our interviews with members of the party "Die Republikaner." More specifically, the party and its members including oneself were ascribed, among other attributes, "straightness to speak openly" (Richard, m, 49), "idealism" (Karl, m, 26), "patriotism" (Britta, f, 44), belief in or respect for "traditional values... : order, punctuality, diligence, discipline" (Armin, m, 32) and a conservative, national or "nationalconservative" orientation (e.g., Beate, f, 58). The content of these self-stereotypes again underlines the close interrelation of party identity and national identity as well as the
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