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  • Foto van schrijverBrigitte Opel

Germany & Refugees, a Cultural Dilemma

This morning alone, nearly 2000 refugees arrived by train in Germany, a total of 800,000 refugees are expected in 2015. Almost all of them from Syria and the surrounding region, that is war-ridden and unpredictable – in a very dangerous way.

Procedures: Either extremely brave or extremely desperate, these people make their way across mountain borders, cross the Mediterranean, follow train tracks through dozens of countries and finally arrive in Germany. And here, they are about to meet with the finest of bureaucracies. According to the Hofstede model, the German culture has a medium-high Uncertainty Avoidance, so order and structure are needed to organize life in general and reduce risk. Meaning that forms and procedures are essential, full of complicated terminology. Get in line and be patient....

Status: The 2000 refugees that arrived this morning, were welcomed friendly and well-organized: Outside the train station, they’re handed water, clothes, diapers, toys and teddy-bears. The German Generation X was raised with awareness and guilt when it comes to the historic fatal results of racial discrimination. Many politicians, journalists and normal people call for a positive reaction.

But not all are open and friendly towards the refugees. Some are suspicious, few even violently opposing their arrival. This can also be explained the Hofstede model: In the German culture, it is important to be successful and to achieve status (medium-high Masculinity), based on your personal effort (medium-high Individualism). If people with this cultural mix find themselves in insecure economic circumstances, it will lead to emotional instability, frustration and eventually aggression, as Sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer projected years ago. And the situation has exploded a couple of times.

Fortunately, people with more friendly attitude are beginning to raise their voices, on tv, on social media and in the news: Don’t make the refugees suffer, just because certain individuals are marginalized in the political and social arena.

For these people, the war has to stop.

Here and now - if we can’t stop it in their homeland.

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