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Germans (Jakob M. Pastötter)

Germans (Jakob M. Pastötter)

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Published by Lobuscher
In: Carol R. and Melvin Ember, ed., Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender. Men and Women in the World’s Cultures vol. I. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum 2004, pp. 400-407.
In: Carol R. and Melvin Ember, ed., Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender. Men and Women in the World’s Cultures vol. I. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum 2004, pp. 400-407.

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Published by: Lobuscher on Nov 03, 2010
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Germans
Jakob M. Pastötter
ALTERNATIVE NAMES
The German name is “Deutsche” from Germanic
thiot 
(“nation/people”). Itdoes not go back to an ancient name or term but was developed followingthe line:
deutsche
(German) language—
Deutsche
(Germans)—
Deutschland 
(Germany). The term was first coined as “theodiscus” in 768under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Great, orCharlemagne, in the context of language to make a distinction from theRomance-speaking people. Thus, even today,
deutsch
strongly relies onculture and language, although the term
deutsche Kulturnation
(GermanCulture Nation), which is a phrase of the 18th and 19th century todescribe the fact that Germanspeaking people share a common culturalheritage but do not live in a single state, is rarely used nowadays.
LOCATION
Today, Germans live in three states located in Central Europe: the FederalRepublic of Germany (FRG), which embraces 357,021 km
2
following thereunification of West Germany and the former Communist East Germanyin 1990, Austria with an area of 82,738 km
2
, and Switzerland with an areaof 41,293 km
2
. There is also the small Dukedom of Liechtenstein betweenSwitzerland and Austria with an area of 157 km
2
. German minorities livein all adjoining countries, but few German settlements in Eastern Europe,some going back to medieval colonies, have survived the expulsionsfollowing World War II and 50 years of Communist and nationalist rule.Denmark and the Baltic Sea mark the borders in the north, TheNetherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and French-speakingSwitzerland in the west, Slovenia, Italy, and Italian-speaking Switzerlandin the south, and Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary inthe east. Germany’s terrain includes lowlands in the north, uplands in thecenter, and the Bavarian Alps in the south. Austria includes the AustrianAlps and their foothills in the western and southern parts and the DanubeRiver basin in the north and east, while German-speaking Switzerlandincludes uplands in the north and the Swiss Alps in the south. The climateis temperate and marine. In 2001, Germany had an estimated populationof 83,000,000, Austria of 8,000,000, and Swiss Germans accounted for4,000,000 of the total Swiss population of 7,000,000.
CULTURAL OVERVIEW
Although there are many aspects affecting the individual habitus as thesocial, cultural, and economic fabric of the three German-speaking
 
countries, it may be acceptable to neglect those in favor of a broader andmore general picture, especially since the largest country, the FederalRepublic of Germany, is in many cultural aspects heterogeneous.Differences between, for example, an East Berliner, who was socialized inthe Communist German Democratic Republic, and a rural CatholicBavarian are greater than those between a Bavarian and an Austrian(although they have lived in different states for many centuries).However, all Germans share a long history and tradition of paternalismand patriarchalism, which is still prevalent today. The main differencesamong the different regions are first based on a difference of the maindenominations (or, of course, the absence of religion): Lutheran inNorthern Germany; agnosticism in East Germany; Catholicism in SouthGermany and Austria; Reformed Protestantism and Catholicism inSouthwest Germany and German Switzerland. Also, regional differencesare rooted in the historical German “tribes” (Alemanni, Bavarians, Franks,Friesians, Saxons, and Thuringians), which refer to the migration era inlate antiquity.The most important historical and political developments in Germanyare the unification of a dozen of medium-sized and small states when theGerman Empire was founded in 1870, followed by what one might call the “militarization” and bureaucratization of German society under Prussianpredominance together with rapid and successful industrialization. Withregard to Austria, her long history as the heartland of the Habsburgmonarchy and the transition into a small state after World War I should bementioned, and Switzerland has a long tradition as the oldest democracywith strong federal elements.Today, all Germans live in democratic and industrialized states;farming exists only as heavily subsidized part of the economy.Environmentalist groups are strong; one of the reasons for this is that “nature” is highly valued by Germans, which shows that Romanticism aswell as German Idealism left their marks. The majority of Germans live incities or suburbs; in Germany the urban-to-rural distribution is 85% to15%, with a higher balance in Austria and Switzerland. The literacy rate(those aged 15 and over who can read and write) is about 99%, with upto 100% attendance in 9 or 10 years of compulsory schooling. The percapita gross domestic product (purchasing power parity) is $23,400 inGermany, and even higher in Austria and Switzerland. The unemploymentrate is highest in Germany at 9.9% and lowest in Switzerland at 2.6% (in2002).Although birthrates are well below the substitution rate with about 9%births but 10% deaths per 1,000 population, only Switzerland has anactive immigration policy. Of the 7 million people in Switzerland, 2 millionare immigrants, while the net migration rate in the other states is just2.45 migrants per 1,000 population, also due to stressing the
iussanguinis
over a more pragmatic approach. Immigrants are generallysupposed to integrate or to live in their own areas, which has resulted inthe development of a ghetto culture, especially in the largest group of immigrants in Germany, the Islamic Turkish (2.4% of the population).
2
 
However, the “visibility” of immigrants is high, since ethnic restaurants(Chinese, Croatian, Greek, Indian, Italian, Vietnamese) can be found ineven the smallest towns. The Turkish “doner” is the favorite fast food,more popular than the traditional sausages. “Salsa parties” in bars are ameeting point for German women and Arabic immigrants.
CULTURAL CONSTRUCTION OF GENDER 
The recognized gender categories are male and female. The existence ointersex people plays no role in public, although awareness is slowlygrowing. Some transvestites have gained media fame, for example, LiloWanders as the moderator of the sex show
Wa(h)re Liebe
(TrueLove/Love as Consumer’s Item) on Private TV. Crossdressing is verypopular during Carnival. In primary schoolbooks the men are pictured asearning the family income, whereas women stay at home, preparinghearty meals and caring for the children. This is surprising, since the lawshave been much more progressive for decades, and offer the opportunityfor both mothers and fathers to take paid leave of absence from work forchildcare until the child’s second birthday.Apart from make-up and skirts, there are few differences betweengenders. Even same types of make-up and dyed hair can be seen in ultra-fashionable youths at techno music parties, like the millions of so-called “ravers” attracted to the “Love Parade” in Berlin or the “Street Parade” inZurich. Shaving of the body hair has slowly become fashionable withwomen, and more slowly by men, though only a minority wear beards.Piercings and tattoos are in favor with both genders, if done at all.However, the more conservative and/or distinguished people have moretraditional visual gender differences, such as short hair for men and longhair or permanent waves for women (regarded as feminine and sexuallyattractive). When it comes to certain hair colors and body shapes, opinionpolls show that all types of hair color, breast sizes, and figures areaccepted, with the exception of the obese. However, nearly half of German men would prefer a blonde women for sex, although there is noclear preference when it comes to a future wife. German women seemto prefer a dark complexion in men.
GENDER OVER THE LIFE CYCLE
The cultural names for stages in the life cycle are neutral:
Neugeborenes
(new born) up to the 10th day after birth, the neutral
Saugling
(baby) forchildren up to the 12th month of life, the neutral
Kleinkind 
(toddler) or
Spielkind 
(playing child) from age 2 to 5, the neutral
Schulkind 
(schoolchild) or
Schulmädchen
(schoolgirl) and
Schuljunge
(schoolboy)from age 6 to 14,
 Jugendliche
(female young person) and
 Jugendlicher 
(male young person) (also “Teenager”) up to majority at 18,
Erwachsene
or
Frau
(female adult or woman) and
Erwachsener 
or
Mann
(male adult orman),
Greisin
or
Seniorin
(very old woman), and
Greis
or
Senior 
(veryold man).
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