9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN31 Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Contemporary Patterns of Racism and Antisemitism Building II, C5.09

The Financial Crisis, Anti-Semitism and Racism

The question of whether the current "financial crisis" has effects on anti-Semitism and racism is related to several dimensions of research: Either it has to do with the frequency, i.e. is there an increase or decrease in the number of anti-Semitic and racist statements, positions or crimes? Or it has to do with the quality, i.e. have anti-Semitism and racism changed since the financial crisis began? How do they refer to the financial crisis and is the crisis interpreted in an anti-Semitic or racist way?

In order to analyze the connection between the financial crisis and anti-Semitism or racism, it seems prudent to start with an examination of the different ways of interpreting the crisis currently being expressed. This leads to the questions of whether - and by which actors - the crisis is being interpreted in an anti-Semitic or racist way, and which interpretations of the crisis can be tied into an anti-Semitic position.

I will first analyze the current definition of the crisis in different political spectrums in Germany and then examine them in terms of their possible anti-Semitic and/or racist argumentation in comparison to their arguments before the financial crisis in order to make a statement about a shift or change.

My first hypothesis is that the current financial crisis brings anti-Semitic interpretations of crises up to date, but these do not differ from the anti-Semitic interpretations of crises from before the financial crisis. The second thesis - and also the explanation for hypothesis 1 - is that anti-Semitism can always be understood as a way to interpret crises in the sense that it "calls for community" (Vobruba) and attributes all negative effects of society to particular representatives that can be identified with the abstract side of capitalism. The basis for this is a particular kind of "critique" of capitalism. Anti-Semitic argumentations are more suited for the affirmation of a specific national construction of community than racist argumentations are due to the specificities of the anti-Semitic Weltdeutung (interpretation of the world).