CIAO DATE: 10/07
Despite its highly visible physical reunification, Berlin has social fault lines that seriously challenge the city’s integration. This article reviews the multiple cleavages that crisscross Berlin’s social fabric and assesses whether and how these divides are being bridged. East- West, neighborhood, religious, national/ethnic, and socioeconomic fractures remain wide. Even the social construction of the city’s history and the embedding of collective memory in the built environment are occasions for division. Hopeful signs of increasing social integration, however, are found in the new memorials, creative multicultural forms, vibrant and diverse immigrant neighborhoods, ethnic intermarriage, and other indicators. Under conditions of severe fiscal crisis, policies such as housing renovation, the Social City Program, local nonprofit labor market initiatives, and expanded language instruction are among the deliberate attempts to promote social integration in the “New” Berlin.
Both Berlin and the European Union are transformed by global migration trends that are creating extraordinary ethnic diversity. Social inclusion is now one of the top priorities of the EU’s URBAN II program. Berlin’s Social Cities/Neighborhood Management program stands at the vortex of joint EU, German and city-state efforts to achieve social inclusion in low-income, ethnically diverse communities. This article assesses the impact of Social Cities/Neighborhood Management on inclusion for Berlin’s large Turkish minority in two immigrant neighborhoods. It focuses particularly on the level of incorporation of Turkish nonprofit organizations into Neighborhood Management decision making. Finally, the article asks what role ethnic nonprofits should play in community revitalization, and whether social inclusion can be achieved where their role is diminished.
How do groups of people produce particular markers of the past in the urban landscape? The terrain of markers in a given neighborhood, city, or country can result from the top-down vision of a centralized elite—or the relatively diverse, even contradictory, layers of multiple eras and multiple interest groups and actors. In post 1989 Berlin, the memorial landscape is a heterogeneous collection of statues, plaques, and conceptual memorial projects relating to various eras in the city’s nearly eight centuries of existence. More widely known sites may be created in somewhat top-down ways, and be the responsibility of federal and state officials. But, much memorial work happens at the district level, and in the hands of an array of local activists. This local responsibility clearly indicates the active involvement of both easterners and westerners in local democratic and civic processes in general, and in activities that shape the memorial terrain in particular. Despite the inequality of unification and the extensive institutional transfer that happened in many sectors of the political and economic arenas, many eastern Berliners play active roles in the civic life in general and memorial culture in particular of their neighborhoods and districts. These local practices result from the civic participation (and arguably social integration) of a range of Berlin’s residents, in both the eastern and western halves of the city.
Ethnic enclaves in West Berlin and now, East Berlin are located in denigrated areas of high unemployment, poverty, and devalued or high-rise public housing, but they are also places where immigrants are slowly integrating into the larger city and German society. Despite different national origins and different conditions and periods in which they arrived, socially excluded Vietnamese, Russian, and other migrants to East Berlin are following local incorporation paths surprisingly similar to those of the Turks in West Berlin. In both Kreuzberg and Marzahn, the rise of multicultural forms and events, economic niches, and ethnic associations make local life attractive and ultimately, contribute to immigrant incorporation and neighborhood revitalization.
This article examines the conceptual structure of the Social City Program as it has been formulated in legislation and applied in practice. It raises serious questions as to the actual impact of the program as formulated, and suggests that conceptual clarity may help both to expose its flaws and to propose alternate positive potentials. The program has a complex intellectual underlay, and clarity in the concepts used can avoid some potential dangers in its implementation. More specifically, integration is not the opposite of exclusion, and inclusion is not the same as reducing poverty. Spatial clustering can either support or weaken solidarity. Enclaves and ghettos are not the same thing, although both reflect a clustering of population groups. Finally, emphasizing “social capital” can be a way of highlighting the strength of the oppressed or blaming them for their own oppression— and these distinctions are loaded with consequences for policy.
German nonprofits active in support work for unemployed and marginalized groups have undergone significant transformation in the context of recent social and labor market reforms. Drawing on the findings of a three-year research project on such local work-insertion organizations in Berlin, the article discusses some of the problems and potentials of nonprofits in the reshaping of welfare and employment policies. It shows how the service providers implementing these new policies and delivering the new benefits face a new competition from private, for-profit agencies as well as constraints set by the formal contracts which the new instruments entail. As they now have to deliver enhanced self-activity of their clients, are called upon to nurture and make use of “social capital” in their work fields, and are involved, as civil society “stakeholders,” in new local partnerships between the municipality, the employment office and private sector actors, they lead us to question prevailing views in the voluntary sector scholarship.
The Soziale Stadt program, was introduced by the Red-Green coalition government in 2000, and has continued until today, despite the change in governing coalition. It is a cooperative program between the federal and Länder governments and has some innovative characteristics: cross-department cooperation at all administrative levels; integrative action plans; tackling social problems of neighborhoods in a new way; novel forms of participation and cooperation. After its first three years, the program is undoubtedly a great success, visibly addressing key issues in the cities and widening the scope for action. This article presents results of an interim evaluation showing that the results of program implementation, however, still remain modest.