Titel: Why We Should Talk about German ‘Orientierungskultur’ rather than ‘Leitkultur’
Autor: Mathias Risse
The notion of Leitkultur has been used in German immigration debates to capture the idea that our living arrangements ought to be shaped by shared cultural identity. Leitkultur contrasts with a multiculturalism that sees multiple cultures side-by-side on equal terms. We should replace Leitkultur with Orientierungskultur, a notionwhose introduction is overdue. German philosophy, especially Kant, has bestowed an intellectual meaning upon an originally geographical notion that is already ubiquitous, making ‘Orientierungskultur’ a natural construct. That notion allows us to say there is an inevitably amorphous but recognizable German culture whose prominence in public life provides a grounding for many and prevents them from feeling alienated from the society they helped build; at the same time, for some domains of public life not participating in default behavior is not merely tolerated but acknowledged as a genuine alternative. Crucially, one way of orienting oneself is to turn away.