Citizenship Ceremonies in Germany: A More Universalist Kulturnation

  • Maria Jakob Leipzig University


After 2000, a profound liberalization of naturalization criteria in Germany was followed by culturalist setbacks: language requirements were tightened, a civics test, a pledge of allegiance, and citizenship ceremonies were introduced. Can these developments be termed a liberal assimilationist turn in what it means to be a citizen or is this a revival of the old notion of a German cultural identity as Kulturnation (cultural nation)? The qualitative study of German citizenship ceremonies presented herein, provides an in-depth analysis of the logics of “liberal assimilation” and the nexus between culture, citizenship, and national belonging. At the ceremonies, “culture” is referenced as a universally human feature that binds people together. Conversely, culture is also presented as an individual folkloristic asset that can be used for profit and for contributing to the value of diversity. This twofold conceptual specification of “culture” is then discussed as an adaptation of the originally universalist Kulturnation idea and as a modern solution to the problem of societal integration.

Author Biography

Maria Jakob, Leipzig University

Maria Jakob studied Political Science and Cultural Studies in Leipzig and Warsaw from 2005 to 2011. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural Sociology with a study about Naturalization Ceremonies in Germany. Since 2014 she has been a research assistant at the Institute for the Study of Culture, Leipzig University. Her research interests include cultural sociology, belonging, migration and integration, and qualitative research methodology. Recent publication: “Unfortunately, there is no plural for ‘Heimat’ in German“ – Notions of ‚home‘ and ‚belonging‘ at German naturalization ceremonies, pp. 297-303 in Kläger, Stierstorfer (eds.), Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging. Berlin/Bosten: De Gruyter, 2015.


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