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Sandu FRUNZA, B.B.U.

EXECUTIVE EDITORS: Michael JONES Temple University Mihaela FRUNZA B.B.U.


Diana COTRAU, B.B.U.

Codruta CUCEU, B.B.U.

Alina BRANDA, B.B.U.

Nicu GAVRILUTA, U. Al. I Cuza, Iasi Ana-Elena ILINCA, B.B.U.


Adonis VIDU, Emanuel Univ.



Liviu POP (html version)



American University of Beirut Ioan BIRIS, West Univ., Timisoara Recep BOZTEMUR, Middle-East Technical University of Ankara Ioan CHIRILA, B.B.U.

Teodor DIMA, U. Al. I Cuza, Iasi Michael FINKENTHAL, Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Central European Univ., Budapest Mircea FLONTA, U. Bucharest

• No. 8 • summer 2004

Edited by S.C.I.R.I. & SACRI http://www.sacri.ro

ISSN: 1583-0039

Ladislau GYEMANT, B.B.U.


Hebrew University of Jerusalem Moshe IDEL

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Adrian-Paul ILIESCU, U. Bucharest Marius JUCAN, B.B.U.

Ioan-Vasile LEB, B.B.U.

Adrian MIROIU, SNSPA, Bucharest Camil MURESANU, B.B.U.

Toader NICOARA, B.B.U.

Dorothy NOYES Ohio State University


Wade Clark ROOF,

University of California, Santa Barbara Traian ROTARIU, B.B.U.

SALAT Levente, B.B.U.

Johannes Michael SCHNARRER, University of Karlsburg

Leonard SWIDLER Temple University Peter van der VEER Univ. of Utrecht Leon VOLOVICI

Hebrew University of Jerusalem VERESS Carol, B.B.U.





The civil society between freedom and democracy

• 4


Rethinking Ties that Bind. Religion and the Rhetoric of Othering • 13


The Culturally Situated Young Romanian Viewer and the New Television • 23


National Identity: Belonging to a Cultural Group?

Belonging to a Polity • 31



Huntington or Halliburton?

The Real Clash of Civilizations in American Life • 43


The Debate over the Historical-Political Back- ground of a Civic Multicultural Society • 55 STAMATOPOULOS DIMITRIOS

The “Return” of Religious and Historiographic Discourse:Church and Civil Society in Southeast- ern Europe (19th – 20th centuries) • 64


Whose Civil Society?: The Politicization of Reli- gion in Transitional Cuba • 76


Why Roma do not Declare their Identity – Careful Decision or Unpremeditated Refusal? • 90




Sincretism imaginar; Imaginary Sincretism • 102



Clonarea – Blasfemie sau Binecuvântare?

Structuri mitico-religioase, controverse etice si consecinte sociale

Clonong: Blasphemy or Blessing? Mythical-reli- gious Structures, Ethical Controverses and Social Consequences • 109



Michael Francis Laffan, Islamic Nationhood and Colonial Indonesia: The umma below the winds • 118


Mihaela Miroiu, The road towards autonomy.

Feminist Political Theories • 120 SANDU FRUNZA

Andrei Marga, Religia in era globalizarii Religion in the Era of Globalization • 122 ANA-ELENA ILINCA

Mihaela Frunza, Ideology and Feminism • 124 MARIUS JUCAN

Aurel Codobon, Amurgul iubirii • 126 PETRU MOLDOVAN

Bryan Rennie (ed.), Changing Religious Worlds.

The Meaning and End of Mircea Eliade • 130 LUIZA PALANCIUC

Jean-Claude MILNER, Les penchants criminels de l’Europe démocratique

The Criminal Penchants

of the Democratic Europe • 134


Johannes Michael Schnarrer

The civil society between freedom and democracy

Abstract: In view of a rapid succession of events in the contemporary world, on both the political and the scientific levels, it is indeed essential to say more about the subject of democracy in the civil society. If by democracy we mean not only a form of govern- ment but also a system of living, then indeed a unanimous judgment and also a general conception cannot be expected, but nevertheless the concept need not to be debased to the stage of complete meaninglessness.

1. Europe and its notion of democracy

The European countries had obviously had enough of dictatorships and totalitarian forms of governments.

The Berlin-wall broke down in 1989. Europe became new. To discuss the admittedly special circumstances obtaining in Europe would obscure the actual issues, since it is now no longer possible to set geographical limits in the treatment of this subject. Doubts about the value of democracy have not come upon us from

heaven or hell, but must have deeper roots in spite of all the defects which cannot be denied and in spite of justi- fied criticism; for this reason it is not possible to take


Univ.-Prof. Ph.D. and Th.D.

professor at the University of Karlsburg, and at the University of Vienna. Au- thor of the books: Market, Morality and

Marginalization (1994);

Arbeit und Wertewandel (1996); The common good in our changing world (1997); Allianz für den Sonntag (1998); Norm und Naturrecht verstehen (1999); Aktuelle

Herausforderungen der Ethik in Wirtschaft und Politik (1999); Anything goes? Sittlichkeit im Zeitalter der Skepsis (2000); Solidarität und Sozialstaat (2000);

Spannungsfelder praktischer Philosophie (2003); Reihe Komplexe Ethik 1 – Sittliche Urteilsbildung in der vernetzten Gesellschaft - Grundlagen (2004). E-mail:


the easy way out and attribute them to some „spirit of times”. All the more so because other conceivable forms of society are much less in tune with human na- ture, man´s desire for liberty and the free expression of the personality than the system under which we live.

However, a period of one generation(end of the cold war) is too short to be able to discern in the flood of events a „secular process” which has led to the increas- ing erosion and indeed to the break-up of traditional values.

In actual fact, if the principles of democracy – that is, freedom, law and order – are being questioned more and more insistently and more and more often, this is certainly due more to the conscious and deliberate activ- ity of (more or less radical) minorities. But it is these groups who as a rule fight not with the intellect but with the weapons of force – ranging from the condemnation of those who do not share their opinions to anarchistic excesses. They presume to be able to construct a new society only on the ruins of the destruction of the old;

in any case this society is not at all „new”, but can be observed in the flesh in existing dictatorships and totali- tarian forms of government, which above all enable us to make comparisons. If the opinions of the majority are alleged to be rubbish and sense is the prerogative of the few, it does not follow that the converse is true, i.e.

that only minorities possess sense. In particular, how- ever, the aggressive minorities with whom we are here concerned cannot then feel justified in exercising power by the way of coercion. No, their intellectual intolerance makes them incapable of a considered judgment; their

argumentativeness, generally flaunted with noise and commotion, serves more for the intimidation of the sensible than any desire to enhance their own aware- ness.

2. The function of democracy and fundamental ethical decisions

It may, I believe, be asserted without prejudging the issue that on the whole it is a decided minority that would wish to „refunction” the democratic will of the majority, in spite of many objections to this principle, into the rule of the minority. This new vogue word is a fashionable neologism. Such neologisms of this kind are in fact intended to convey the impression that the thing in itself needs to be incarnated in a form of activity be- fore it can take on meaning and essence. This stimu- lated activity represents a new way of thinking, which is prepared to condemn everything that is not in a state of continuous motion or is not being moved and changed as stagnation.

If therefore the unchanging, the established, no longer signifies anything, it is only logical to set store by practical experience and rational knowledge alone, and hence to reject ethical, moral and religious values as measures of human action and striving. A man who cannot comprehend Immanuel Kant´s „the starry heav- ens above me and the moral law within me” as a philo- sophical creed but only perhaps as a poetic piece of lit- erature has certainly not contradicted Kant if his


political science, ethics, civil society, Europe, democracy, government, freedom.


intention was thereby to obtain „carte blanche” for a philosophy without values or even antagonistic to them.

However, the man who thinks of the „starry heavens”

only in terms of astronauts and conceives of the moral law only from the standpoint of the penal code has no understanding of this great philosopher.

Making value judgments is certainly not always the expression of objectivity and justice, but this activity must in all logic be purely arbitrary if a shallow, merely expedient pragmatism predominates over higher values.

No human conscience can be so stunted as to be unable in the last analysis to distinguish between more good and more evil – unless one denies altogether that any- thing like the conscience exists. But the conscience can- not convincingly be branded as a backward, bourgeois notion! For that is the hope of sensible people of all na- tions, that this arrogantly and presumptuously flaunted

„thoughtlessness” must perish through its own spiritual emptiness. This is not by any means to say that every- thing in the garden of the Western democracies is lovely and that no criticism is justified. But the lever of criti- cism requires a fulcrum, which cannot be sought in in- tellectual vagueness.

The reader may enquire whether this long discus- sion about the preconditions of democracy was neces- sary before embarking upon our actual subject. How- ever, the treatment of this subject is virtually

inconceivable without a statement of one´s own values and credo. For instance, anyone who does not conceive freedom as an innate right of man but thinks he can in- terpret it according to his own subjective feeling has

forfeited his entitlement to join in the conversation be- cause he is only a fickle being. The ultimate essence of every community in the civil society is based on the in- tegration of the individual in the whole, and not on the right arrogated to himself by each individual of being able to shape the world around him or her for „every- one” according to his/her conception.

3. Importance of law in the view of freedem, democracy and civil society

Not only the system in itself must certainly be pro- tected by the law but also the freedom. This cannot mean that everyone can claim – i.e. „his/her” right to make use of freedom as he sees fit and- as increasing public insecurity shows – for example to destroy other people´s property or steal it by force. Whilst private law, as a system of rights, exists, consecrated by legislation, there is no „private” right of the type attacked. This the- sis is not in dispute, but unfortunately it is also not al- ways respected. Freedom thus requires a foundation in law, but in addition it must likewise be integrated in a social order. In this sense law and order combine to protect, but also to define, the sphere of freedom of the individual and of the civil society.

However, since the changes are continuosly taking place in politics and in the society, and since these are not always accompanied by changes in the law, it cannot be denied that these have formative power, which also extends to their practical effects. Thus, from a more


philosophical standpoint, the question arises whether the state, which is supposed to guarantee law and free- dom, by its perhaps involuntary increase in influence and power might not ultimately be in danger of further and further restricting the rights and liberties of its citi- zens, contrary to this fundamental moral law. The case is in no way altered if these citizens are prepared, or even wish, to subordinate themselves to the collectivity and even pay the price of renouncing the expression of their freedom. At this point we are bound to mention inflation, which is just one of the factors tending to bind the citizen even against his/her will. The state can- not escape responsibility and blame, particularly if it nurtures ideologies in its industrial, financial and eco- nomic policies which according not only to theory but also to world-wide practical experience cannot fail to re- sult in a constant decline in the value of money – but must then virtually of their essence also lead to the break-up of a free and civil society.

4. The tension between the influence of the state and individual freedom

Master or slave, subject or citizen – that is here the question!? Tempting as it is to go on arguing this point, we must discipline our ideas and return to our subject.

It will now be clear that the democratic system as pre- supposition for a civil society – democracy of course being understood in a genuine and free sense – con- stantly runs the risk of causing the state to be either too

little or too much in evidence and not palpable enough or too palpable. Such scruples are foreign to totalitarian states. Perhaps, however, this comparison will show that when we speak of democracy we can only mean the form of government, society and life which stands above all the partial spheres and aspects. Let the groups in our countries who are infected by communist ideolo- gies once and for all honestly answer the question what they think would happen if every individual group in a totalitarian state – of whatever configuration – dared to set norms and standards of its own in and for itself.

The question arises, what is then meant by democ- racy, and what social-political system is to exist with de- mocratization, and how can be built up a civil society, when the break-up of the state is complete? Could it be the crippling and suppression of the parties legitimized by the people in free, equal and secret elections? Al- ready today, these parties are tending to be undermined everywhere by minorities in their own camps, so that their capability of action is constantly diminished. Is it for example conceivable for an individual person to be subjected to different maxims in different areas of his/

her life? Is the citizen a different person in the family, at work, in society, in the state or as a member of his/her church or religious community, and can his/her life be subordinated in each case to completely different set of moral standards? Is what we call good faith, whether in- dividual or in the group, open in each case to different interpretations, if democracy is not to be just an outline system but is instead to be imbued with the spirit of


unity? And are this not the presuppositions for a real well working civil society?

As it is in private life the members of a club lay down a set of rules binding upon them, the citizens of a state, too, are bound to their set of rules, called the con- stitution. Apart from the purely juridical significance of this statement, it incorporates the prevailing norms of human and moral attitudes. In this wider framework, there is such infinite scope for the unfolding of human freedom that everyone can find his own station. If a person cannot make anything of this freedom, he/she cannot blame his/her failure on the democratic organi- zation of the (civil) society. But this is a measure of the intellectual confusion which threatens to engulf more and more the people in the European countries.

Such critical remarks certainly do not justify the as- sertion that every democracy is already perfect in itself and on the best way to become a civil society. Democ- racy according to the civil society is to be seen as an in- stitution which affords a foundation and a framework for even the fiercest arguments, which nevertheless al- low of at least politically optimum solutions. If the de- mand for a better society, a civil society, and the democ- ratization is not to carry the implicit aim of an

intentional weakening of democracy, then the notion of the „democratized democracy” can in fact only be re- garded as a pleonasm. We could then equally well speak of „capitalized capitalism”, „socialized socialism” or

„liberalized liberalism”. The ambiguity or multiplicity or possible interpretations of such neologisms should be proof enough, with a little reflection, that this method is

simply useless. A fragmented and atomized democracy is in fact no longer a democracy, unless the word is to be given an entirely new connotation. Everyone knows that one can argue splendidly with words, and that a system can also be constructed with words, but what has been constructed is then a different social system, a different form of government, and in this sense also a quite different theory of the civil society.

5. Difficulties with the democracy

Also, if the critics of a free democracy were mani- festly impelled by the desire to improve that which is in- adequate and to perfect the existing order, they could be sure of a wide measure of agreement from many who felt the same way. However, the noisiest protagonists of civil society and democratization make it all too clear from their behaviour and activities that they want to alienate the citizen from democracy. That, as already stated, they are intend not on evolution but on revolu- tion, and in addition even heap abuse on the state, which is bound by law and justice to maintain this free organization of life. A person who really wants to pro- tect democracy and wants to install the civil society rein- force it from within should think of something better than mindless repetition of the word „democratization”

or the word „civil society” as the assumed way to salva- tion. It is fundamental that the concepts of democracy and civil society will admit of no multiplications. As a nation, we always live in just one democracy and one


society, in one system of justice, and not in a number separate institutions each with completely different structures. Even if we live in a global world we live only according to one dimension, in one place in a special time (hic et nunc). And when one considers the meth- ods by which minorities often come to power, the resis- tance of freedom-loving citizens must be raised in op- position to this distortion of the will of the majority, for the sake of democracy and civil society.

Basically it is almost always minorities which wish to oppress majorities today. For example, it can scarcely be denied that the democratization of the churches has not contributed to the strengthening or spiritualization of Christianity. And democratization in schools of all kinds has not really manifested itself in improved education and additions to the store of knowledge. In fact it has led to a refunctioning of truth an suppression of the free exercise of the intellect. Not least among the fac- tors contributing to the failures and symptoms of de- generation of democracy is that it has been forgotten that democracy not only gives the citizens rights but also imposes obligations in him or her. From the moral standpoint of view, forbearance and understanding are inherent in democracy, whereas the democratized de- mocracy can only accentuate antagonisms. Another point: when majorities are formed from free democratic elections, it cannot at the same time be democratic to support the principle of „parity” in other institutions – e.g. in the idea of an „economic and social council” – in contradiction to this vote. Indeed, this could even result

in fundamental falsification of the genuine process of formation of the democratic and the „civil” will.

Of course, the logical culmination of democracy is the rule of the official, the free election and the active participation of the human person. For whose calling is then democratization? The silent citizen and ordinary political consumer at any rate would not aspire to it, and it is unlikely that his/her voice would be heard even if he/she did. No, it scarcely be gainsaid that democra- tized democracy on all levels justifies a new form of re- gime which is fundamentally at variance with the inner law of a genuine democracy and a civil society. For why should the citizen in a democracy guaranteed by consti- tutional law bother to vote if his/her declared will is dis- regarded by pseudo-democratic institutions? No parlia- ment, moreover, should show itself to be so bankrupt that – assembling as it does the elite of a nation – it is incapable of objective appreciation of an issue, and re- quires an institutionally consecrated council of experts, who could in any case if necessary be called in to advise on specific issues. There can be no middle path between acceptance and rejection of democratic forms of life. In a democracy as we understand it, human freedom is sacrosanct. In the civil society, it is, at the least, ques- tionable. It is in any case clear that under a democratic system the citizen is also free to make his/her will known, whereas with democratization he/she is subject to a greater or lesser degree of obligation imposed upon him/her and thus is fettered in new respects. This

means that this misunderstood democracy creates a per- fection of power from which it is no longer possible for


the citizen to escape and which he/she cannot ward off.

Opinions on this issue are not divided into bourgeois and socialist schools of thought. The tearing-up, and likewise the arbitrary mixing, of all values is bound to lead to egalitarianism, because if everyone thinks he/she can aspire to the same, the status of the personality is diminished and a fair appreciation of individual achieve- ment is prevented. In this sense is the civil society in danger to become an egalitarian community without performance.

6. Questions of industry and work

I would like to deal, finally, with the particular prob- lems of industrial co-determination – and especially co- determination on a parity basis – in rather more detail, as it might otherwise appear as thoughI were endeav- ouring to avoid touching on the problems of the day, in our rapid changing transition countries and the Western world. Because work and employment are key-factors also for the civil society. It is both noteworthy and char- acteristic that co-determination in the sense of our in- dustrial relations legislation is rather an element of inter- nal order and social co-operation between the employer and the employee, and for this very reason had nothing to do with any revival of the class-war. The legislators and both sides if industry realized on the basis of practi- cal experience that it was useful and to everyone´s ad- vantage to approach problems between staff and man- agement as far as possible on an amicable basis and

with a readiness to negotiate mutually acceptable solu- tions. The juridical foundations for this process were created – without eroding the entrepreneurial function by parity. This was certainly a manifestation of a demo- cratic approach towards a civil society, yet there was no question of democratization for the institution of a new social order. This blurring of competences and respon- sibilities was aimed rather at areas outside that of pro- ductive industry, whence they were to permeate all lay- ers of society and refunction them.

7. Egalitarianism as challenge of civil society

But, I myself would never attempted to hide my re- jection of a democracy as egalitarianism – of a principle of parity which negates the original democratic consen- sus, because, to put it crudely, it leads to a system in which no one any longer knows ‘who is the cook and who is the waiter´. In this sense egalitarianism is a real challenge also to the civil society, because the basis of this principle is on the concept of democracy.

Where this intellectualconfusion has led in the uni- versities is plain to all. If we apply the same principle to a national economy, it appears very unlikely indeed that the latter would be strengthened and bolstered from within. Regrettably, our age is one if many contradic- tions, but to draw attention to them in the free world today has virtually become tantamount to disturbing the peace. The economic failures and deficiencies of collec-


tivized economic systems in comparison to market-ori- entated forms of organization are now so crass that it is virtually the height of impudence and ideological delu- sion to recommend the peoples of the free world to re- linquish this of all freedoms.

Such a conception of modernity becomes a cheap excuse for individual human failure and cowardly opting out of competition. For let there be no mistake: the de- mocratization of democracy can only lead to more and more egalitarianism, in spite of the fact that such a pro- cess is contrary to both human nature and the purpose of creation. However, justified the achievement of a better social balance within a community may appear, an exaggerated egalitarianism which endeavours to blur and level the natural differences between industryand ability on the one hand and idleness and incapacity on the other can only be misguided. It is always the people as a whole which suffers and stands to lose from a mis- conceived social policy. Not even the most inventive imagination can do anything about the fact that every new endeavour to achieve a redistribution of the na- tional income reaches a limit beyond which sense be- comes nonsense and charity becomes a scourge. With- out incentives and the impulse to achieve, a

competitively based market economy cannot fail to be sidetracked into collectivist egalitarianism, in contrary to a civil society.

8. Ethics between society and human person

All human societies have ethical systems that define what is meant by right and wrong, fairness, justice, truthfulness, and similar ideas dealing with morality and rightness. Individuals who live in those societies learn from childhood what is considered ethical and unethi- cal. Religious institutions, parents, teachers, and others instill a sense of fairness, justice, and general ethical behaviour. As a result, most persons develop a strong sense of ethics which then acts as one´s conscience when faced with questions of right and wrong. In addi- tion to individuals conscience as an ethical guide, societ- ies spell out their ethics in laws, customs, and religious beliefs. When questions arise, these community stan- dards are then used to sort out right from wrong and to define what is ethical or unethical.

The ideal civil society that is envisioned, be it the better consumer side of the society and/or a more ac- tive cultural side of the community, holds out to indi- viduals the promise of living life as they want, irrespec- tive of the natura humana, and works to fulfill that promise by transforming both social institutions and the whole of the life environment. In the process of pursu- ing the requisite unlimited growth for human persons, groups and nations, or even continents (like the Euro- pean Union) the natural resources of our planet have been exhausted to the point of endangering the very ba- sis for natural life, as presupposition of a working civil society. This pursuit is accompanied by a gradual de-


cline in the moral will of moderation, a recession of awareness of personal responsibility that goes hand in hand with personal freedom, and a debilitation of the sense of affinity with other communities and societies past and present. The principle of hope has driven anthropocentrism beyond the break point, and must needs give way to a principle of respect over the im- pending natural catastrophe that waits us.

For that reason (but not only for this), we need a civil society with well educated people, who work ac- cording to the principles of responsibility, solidarity, subsidiarity and the common good. On this basis our societies will become „more human” and „more civil”

in the most positive sense we can imagine. But this needs a lot of efforts and activities of everybody, be- cause or civil society will be as well as everybody puts his or her own energy into this project!


Eduardo Terrén

Rethinking Ties that Bind. Religion and the Rhetoric of Othering


Professor, Ph.D., Depart- ment of Sociology, Uni- versity of A Coruña, Spain. He has been Visit- ing Scholar at the London School of Economics.

Author of the books:

Education and modernity (1999), The intercultural contact at schools (2001).

Abstract: Contemporary Europe is facing this chal- lenge when redefining its own identity and socializing institutions. This paper focuses on how current discus- sions on the adequacy of a reference to Judeo- Christian heritage in the new European Constitution or on the teaching of religions at schools show the resilience of old-age notions and stereotypes with respect to cultural diversity. In order to explain this resilience, the paper explores how hierarchical percep- tions of otherness (mainly of Muslims) are flourishing within a dichotomized system of representing other- ness. This system is analyzed from the neo- Durkeimian perspective of cultural sociology and placed in connection with the spiritual leadership of fundamentalist conservatism after the fall of the Berlin Wall and with the old trend of Orientalism underlying pervading dominant Western discourses.

Multiculturality as an opportunity for redefining democracy

In the transition from the 20th to the 21st century a series of phenomena tied to economic globalization and population movements (Sassen, 1996) as well as the identity demands of very diverse (Castells, 1997) are opening a new horizon for citizenship. Among these phenomena, the growing multiculturality of resident populations in the same national territory is perhaps one of the elements which most clearly obliges us to re- flect on the necessity of forging a new concept of citi- zenship capable of providing a new project of rights, participation and belonging to a civil society which is becoming increasingly more complex and heteroge- neous. The main challenge posed by an ongoing multicultural population is to renew the experience of



The first step towards that aim concerns identity.

Civil citizenship and togetherness are deeply related be- cause there seems to be no doubt that citizenship im- plies some kind of collective identity, a certain type of feeling of belonging: it is difficult to think about active contribution to any kind of political project if one does not feel as a member of those who have the right to benefit from the same. The question is whether patrio- tism or ethnicism (very frequently tied to religion) that traditionally have served us as uniting link “with our own” is still a sufficient source to provide this identity or whether it is necessary to reformulate it more along the lines of the new multicultural horizon.

Contemporary authors as Will Kymlicka or Michel Walzer, for example, have sufficiently criticized the burden which the assumption of cultural homogeneity has had in the program of liberalism in modern politics.

To their minds, this assumption has derived from an idealized model of polis understood as a union of an- cestors, language, territory and very often religion (just consider the etymology of the term “com-munion”) which has not been sufficiently able to recognize the true multicultural character of the majority of political communities. This traditionally modern way of building civil identity on the basis of national cultures seems to be at odds with the new phenomena of

“postnationality” (Tambini, 2000), that is to say, with the new feelings of belonging emerging from current fluxes of populations. Nevertheless, its persistence ac- counts for multiculturality being perceived too often as a threat or a danger because it is supposed to undermine

the grounds of a shared identity. In a context of ongo- ing cultural and ethical pluralism, many Europeans feel disoriented, anxious or troubled; and the more one’s own self-identity blurs, the more difficult it is to accept others´ and to establish a rational dialogue to negotiate and redefine a new common identity (Allsayad and Casttels, 2002). In relation to this, Alain Touraine (1997) has talked about a “weak principle of integra- tion”. His point is that it is time to accept that sharing a common culture does not mean necessarily sharing the same values, not even sharing the same identity (which is not to be confused with a common identity). But how are we to do it? How can we live together and get organized without being similar and thinking the same?

What do we have to share and what are we entitled not to share? These are the main questions multiculturality poses to the renewal of civic experience and the feeling of togetherness.

Although far from being a definite answer, it may help to pave the way of our search by keeping far enough away enough easy formulas such as those aris- ing from the idea of incompatibility of cultures or such as those arising from the idea that difference is good in itself and always enriching. A recalcitrant xenophobia is just as bad company as a forced xenophilia. We begin, then, by being convinced that, beyond any metaphysics of difference, multiculturality must be considered from a realistic perspective independent from any previous assessment and to be considered as a simple question of fact. A problematic question, besides, because, given the monocultural and Eurocentric framework which has


Religion, cultural diversity, intercultural education, cultural sociology.


characterized the institutional development of moder- nity, the living together of individuals with different vi- sion of the world makes recognition and treatment of others difficult because it makes different conceptions of good and evil to coexist, and it forces us to reformu- late the manner in which we define identity (who we are and who those like us are: our own).

Nevertheless, this is a difficulty which if conve- niently dealt with and managed can provide an impor- tant source of renovation to civic learning. To consider multiculturality as a difficulty does not mean, then, see- ing it as a threat or as civic gangrene; rather, instead, as a challenge, that is, as a situation which offers the possi- bility to rethink the ties that unite us in this form of civil solidarity which must be kept alive in a strongly demo- cratic society.

But rethinking ties that bond us to different people supposes a need to analyze the way we represent them.

This is why we have to first address the logic underlying how we tend to perceive and represent what cultural difference is; that is, how we tend to classify other people.

The inner organization of symbolic representation systems

This section outlines the theoretical frame within which comments on religion in the next sections are to be settled. This frame is gained from a current trend in sociological analysis which is known as the “strong pro-

gram” of cultural sociology. This program can be contextualized within “the cultural” turn in sociological theory (Nash, 2001). Its aim is to react to Sociology’s traditional insensibility to meaning trying to bring the study of symbolic phenomena into sociological research without reducing them to the narrow-minded perspec- tive of the theory of ideology.

The program can be described as neo-Durkheimian because it shares with Durkheim´s perspective on sym- bolic production the idea that cultural processes have a relative autonomy and work in their own; that the model of these processes can be found in religious rep- resentations; and, last but not least, that the causal im- portance of symbolic classification underlying religious representation of the world relies on the symbolic divi- sion between sacred and profane (Alexander, 1988).

This perspective has striking parallels with Sausage’s emphasis on the “institutional character of language”, the autonomous organization of linguistic signs and the binary code underlying the deep grammar of that orga- nization. But deeper and more substantial echoes of it are to be found in Lévy-Strauss’ and Mary Douglas’ an- thropology. Although Lévy-Strauss did not generalize from religious to secular or civic activity, he claimed in- deed that societies must be studied in terms of their symbolic systems of classification and that these sys- tems were organized as binary oppositions. Douglas in her turn was closer to Durkheimian perspective when analyzing the classifying function of symbolic systems.

In fact, her theory of pollution as a form of social con- trol that societies use to mark deviant or dangerous ac-


tivities can be seen as an expansion of the notion of profanation Durkheim developed in his later work. Af- ter all, Durkheim’s study of the elementary forms of re- ligion was planned to show how the production of so- cial life is impossible to separate from this deep form of classification.

For our purposes here, we stress as a basic assump- tion of this program that social action is always embed- ded in social sentiments condensed in symbols. (“With- out symbols, social sentiments could only have a

precarious existence”, said Durkheim 1912/1965). Any social action takes always place within a preexisting frame of meanings organized along a system of analo- gies and antinomies defining who/what is similar or congruent with us or with the things we value, and what is dissimilar or incompatible with us or with the things we dismissed. The former are attached to “we-ness”;

the later are related to otherness. And this classifies what and we are to trust and distrust. In other words, the main purpose of this program of research is to seek the latent or deep structures underlying the way we cat- egorize our social world. An accurate appraisal of social life cannot be gained without recognizing that the inner organization of our system of symbolic representation brings us reality as a system of positions; that is, as a classified world.

Has this theoretical frame something to say on the representation of cultural diversity in civil society dis- courses? One of the main fields of research in cultural sociology is the study of civil society discourses

(Alexander, 1998). And considering civil society as an

object of research, the strong program of cultural soci- ology focuses on the production of solidarity as the emotional and moral cement of social life.

As far as religion can be considered as a leading symbolic marker of cultural diversity, it is worthy to note how the production of solidarity in civic society discourse is subject to that polarized structure just de- scribed. In a former paper (Terrén, 2002) I have ex- plored how civil society reacts to a phenomenon of ra- cial conflict (namely the riots at El Ejido in February 2000). I researched there on the cultural basis of racism for, as the Ford Report (the first in tackling with racism a global European level) states, it is in the sphere of cul- ture where the images that later can constitute the basis of success of the propaganda and the attitudes of the declared racism are elaborated and re-elaborated. The paper claims that different narratives arising from civil society share a common semiotic code structured on a dichotomized classification representing inclusion and exclusion at the same time. This binary code is taken as the deep symbolic structure of the civil society dis- course. How does it work when dealing with “cultural others”?

Binarism in which the sacred is produced accounts for the narrative structure underlying the discourses analyzed. For this structure relies on dichotomized pairs constantly repeated in main interpretations of racial conflict: “from here / from outside”, “civilization / bar- barism”, “friend / enemy”. These are, too, the paired terms implicit in popular metaphors (“flood”, “ava- lanche”, “plague”) stressing the dangers of crossing


frontiers and linking the people who cross them with

“pollution” or “infection”. My research showed, then, how, in effect, analysis of discourse production of civil society on a racial conflict constitutes a fertile empirical territory for observing the tense relation between classi- fication and solidarity. It showed as well how that

sphere of “idealized togetherness” arising from the code of the sacred works in discourse through narratives rep- resenting itself as an “imagined community” (Benedict Anderson), which is always built as a symbolic territory, that is, as a space with frontiers. The analysis of com- peting narratives claiming for the interpretation of those riots showed what I called the “irony of solidarity”: the production of feelings and loyalties on which social soli- darity is dependent cannot take place without a polar- ized classification of “we-ness” and “other-ness”. This dichotomized representation provided then a deep grammar of polarized categories, which give shape to the discourse of civil society on racial conflict on the ba- sis of pure/impure, sacred/profane distinction.

The sacred, then, is a focus of difference. But sym- bols sacralized by the code are not the benign face of a mere abstract polarization; they are a source of feelings, emotions and dispositions without with individuals can- not adopt a compromised attitude towards others, feel- ings and emotions without which the affiliative tie wherein rest the feeling of belonging and the experience of togetherness would not exist. Any representation of

“we-ness” as sacred or pure implies the classification of what is perceived as polluting and, as a result, threaten- ing. And from these representations, certain differential

attitudes and dispositions to social action are to be ex- pected, for the way we tend to treat people depends on the way we see (and classify) them.

Now the point is: can the current discussions on re- ligion in contemporary Europe be understood within the same scheme?

The Cross and the Crescent: religious diversity as a cultural war

How to fit religions in the relationship between states and civil society is one of the challenges included in accommodating cultural diversity. Due to the tradi- tional historical ties of European nation-states with Christian churches in their development of cultural ho- mogeneity, religion and cultural diversity are historically tied. This fact accounts for the common association be- tween West and Christianity on one side, and Orient and Islamism on the other. As is well known, the cur- rent locus classicus of this association is to be found in Samuel Huntington´s notion of “clash of civilization”

(Huntington, 1993, 1996).

Redefining civic relationship with religion is one of the main tasks to be faced by the ongoing multicultural Europe. Debates on the place of religion at schools or at the European constitution are the evidence of a chal- lenge which shows how the problem for contemporary Europe is not just being multicultural, but considering itself as such (AlSayyad and Castells, 2002).


After a long debate, the attempts at mentioning the Christian inheritance of Europe in its Constitution have not been successful, perhaps due to fear of a reaction from Moslems (already nowadays the second religion in Europe). But this should not be understood as a rejec- tion of the religious in favor of a lay cultural identity.

Almost half of the UE countries have state churches or concordats with the Catholic Church institutionalizing enormous privileges and a great power for them to ne- gotiate. What has happened, then, is that, due to this tremendous capacity for pressure, the conservative elite have managed to substitute the debate revolving around identity and religion for the articulation of the state and churches. Their strategy has not had the symbolic suc- cess of the constitutional recognition of the Christian essence of Europe, but has succeed in obtaining the rec- ognition of churches as representative bodies of civil society which ought to be taken into account with re- gards to the action of the states. But will every church be treated equally?1

As socialization embodies the way a society consid- ers itself, the educational aspect of the question affect- ing many European countries during recent years seems especially relevant. In Italy, the debate on crucifixes which still hang in classrooms has served to make mani- fest the eternal power on Earth of a church accustomed -as in Spain- to be a decisive institutional element in the moral fiber of a citizenship imprisoned in a serious defi- cit of secularization. In France, where between five and six million Moslems reside, the matter of hiyab has been questioning for more than a decade the tradition of neu-

trality of a socializing state action inspired in republican laicity. That which fourteen years ago was seen as in- compatible with official secularism and was left at the expense of creating regulations for the territory of each educational center (just as that which was agreed upon in the United Kingdom during the same period) is now an object of the law which prohibits the outward use of any religious symbol. Spain also, with its small number of some 600,000 Moslems, had its “hiyab case” two years ago. Moreover, due to the associations of Islamism with terrorism, many of these countries are working on plans to control and monitor the socializa- tion practices developed in mosques and Islamic con- fessional schools.

The current debate on the formal or curricular ac- commodation of religious diversity at schools is pervad- ing most European systems of education. Nevertheless, it is worthy to note that the subject has specific implica- tions in those new immigration countries with still lim- ited experience in the reception of immigrant families, such as Italy or Spain. Concerning the latter, from where most of the empirical evidence underlying our re- flection comes from, the lack of laicity in its public life, rooted in the confessional regime hold by Franco’s dic- tatorship for forty years (1939-1975), is also to be kept in mind. The concept of laicity is still looked down upon here or even unknown although some critical movements are trying to make people aware that it car- ries the principle of tolerance and peaceful co-habitation of people from different cultures, traditions and reli- gions, which corresponds to the European situation in


21st Century. Due to their communist past new EU countries have perhaps a different difficulty in accom- modating religious diversity.

But even a country with a religious pluralism of the United States, where confessional schools abound, fun- damentalist Christians lobby for the exclusion of the theory of evolution from teaching in schools, extending the reactionary shadow which had already begun with the attempts of Ronald Reagan and the New Right to introduce obligatory daily prayer in schools. As it hap- pens, in June of this year the Supreme Court rejected the plea of the father of a nine-year-old girl which asked for the deletion of the expression “one nation under God” which has been included in the Pledge of Alle- giance for fifty years and is recited daily by millions of United States schoolchildren.

Therefore, even if our concern is related to the new immigration countries of Europe, the subject has to be presented from a global perspective. In the global arena, the spiritual leadership that advocates a reaction of cul- tural closure with regards to uncertainties of the social change is lead by neo-conservative North Americans and their argument revolving around threatened West- ern values. Nevertheless, on this side of the Atlantic, cultural fundamentalism of this type has found follow- ers, for example, in many who want Christianity in- cluded as a symbol of identity in the European Consti- tution, extending with this the idea that –as the Spanish historian Josep Fontana has pointed out- the historical construction of a European identity was always created vis-à-vis third parties (“barbarians” or “infidels”). But

the wake of this neo-conservative leadership can also be seen in political leaders or in opinions which can

scarcely hide the consideration of the presence of non- Europeans in Europe as an uncomfortable necessity which can only be accepted as a labor market demand or as an object of charity; but, in any case, as can be seen clearly in the recent books by Oriana Fallaci, al- ways with the excluding and frightened attitude of those that feeling as members of a higher civilization and counting on “the power of reason” (i.e. the sacred), they complain that immigration has become an “invasion”

(i.e., a source of pollution).

Artifacts of language such as the depiction of Sadam as the new “Great Satan” or the “crusade” metaphor initially used by Bush Administration to legitimize the second Gulf War are evidence of the discursive re- sources expressing this trend. This belligerent use of re- ligious images makes religion an arena of cultural war and helps to produce dialogue about it within a frame of fear and distrust. The spiritual leadership of Western conservatism speaks then for the ubiquity of dominant discourses which provide the frame within which most public discussions on cultural diversity take place in civil society. This is why most of them are related to a defen- sive and polarized discourse promoting a simplified, un- desirable and threatening of the other, instead of ad- dressing the need of redefining identity itself. At bottom, this is a response to the operation which Norbert Elias (1997) considers typical of the discourse of “the established”: the identification of superiority with merit and both with their self-image.


The thesis here is that religion is part of the classifi- catory and asymmetrical character of this sacred self-im- age. The clearest example is perhaps the implicit defini- tion which is being put forth of Muslims, because, as Hentsch (1992: 1) states: “Muslim is Europe’s Other par excellence”. In fact, before his last attack on the alleged Hispanic menace to Northamerican culture, Huntington (1993) also said that since the fall of the communist re- gime, Muslims were reemerging as the chief enemy. The representation of Islam underlying this definition of the dangers threatening the Western sacred self-image is a stick figure now based on the fear of terrorism under Islamic flag. But this is a representation which does not do justice to the tremendous diversity of Islam2 (same as it would not be fair to identify Christianity with the massacre of two hundred civilians undertaken in

Uganda by God’s Liberation Army or with the defense of creationism as a pedagogical model for biology classes claimed by North American Christian funda- mentalists). But the fact is that the potential for religion to act as identity marker (both as praising the “we” or sacred and as the differentiation of the outsider or pro- fane) speaks for its use in dealing with attitudes con- cerning cultural diversity.

The “other” is always kind of mysterious being. It is strange because it is hard to define; because, as Shanen (1984) has shown, its image is always built on myths and thematic clusters (ancient traditions, political and eco- nomic underdevelopment, exoticism, violence, barbar- ism) hard to reduced to a single and reliable image and invoking simultaneous and often contradictory feelings

inviting fear, distrust and even prurient indulgence, but always at a distance. Difference tends to be more feared than appreciated at bottom, and this accounts for a great part of the debates on the accommodation of reli- gion at schools or the European constitution, as far as they have been the arena where old stereotypes related with Islam have again been circulating under the frame- work of binary and asymmetrical representation I de- scribed above as the basic inner structure of our repre- sentation system.

As we deal with civic socialization and, as is well known, not only schools educate, it worthy noting how this dichotomized structure is still alive in the way evil characters are presented with non-Western cultural or racial traits in cartoons or films. The markers of these cultural products still identify evil figures with pheno- typic traits related to non-Westerness. Central to the construction of this association between evil and Mus- lim otherness is the long ethnocentric tradition of West- ern literature. The depiction of the “Saracen” or the

“Black Moor” as dangerous and strange is rooted in classic texts of the classical Western canon (think of the jealous and violent black moor in Shakespeare’s Othello, or of Muhamad’s cast into the deepest nether extremi- ties of the Inferno by Dante’s Divine Comedy).

The point now is to confirm if there is a connection between this belligerent use of religion in marking cul- tural diversity and the dichotomized system of represen- tation described above. In order to do so, it bears not- ing now how the current circulation of these stereotypes which have been long preserved in collective memory


(especially in countries with a significant history of rela- tionships the Arab world, such as Spain) (Connerton, 1989) reproduces the othering cognitive practice em- bodied in what Edward Said (1978) called


Keeping in mind a concept of the Orient which pri- marily referred to the Islamic world, Said (1978: 3) de- fined “Orientalism” as “the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient -dealing with by making state- ments about it, authoring views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short,

Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restruc- turing and having authority over the Orient”. Said’s main contribution was to show that Western discourses on the cultural others manipulate representations of the Orient to mean what defining forces wanted it to mean.

This seems to fit with de “us-them” dichotomy de- scribed in section 2, insofar as what Alexanader calls

“we-ness” is to be thought of as a main defining force.

A connection between both perspectives can be estab- lished through Hall’s theory of identity, for he suggests that the building of self-identity always generates dis- courses of difference and similarity (Hall, 1994). The other is always to be considered in a range of positions, that is, in a system of classification.

As long as the dominant discourses in the discus- sion of religious diversity continue to reproduce old cul- tural stereotypes in the framework of the friend/enemy dichotomy, the intercultural communication necessary for the forging of a new experience of togetherness will be thwarted.


Discussions on the adequacy of a reference to

Judeo-Christian heritage in the new European Constitu- tion or on the teaching of religions at schools show the challenge Europeans are facing when redefining its own identity and socializing institutions in a new

multicultural context. Discussions also show the resil- ience of old-age notions and stereotypes with respect to cultural diversity. This paper has explored how hierar- chical perceptions of otherness (mainly of Muslims) are flourishing in the current debates on the civil place of religion in contemporary Europe. I have placed these perceptions in connection with the spiritual leadership of fundamentalist conservatism pervading dominant Western discourses after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The use of belligerent images of religion helps the manipula- tion of otherness and the presentation of the rise of Is- lam as the new post-Cold War Other. The latent

Orientalism of this trend is obviously linked to the dia- lectic of the power relations in the new post Cold War world, but this paper has focused on the basic structure of the representation system working in those dis- courses. Although contact with minorities and immi- grants enables Europe to redefine its own identity and to forge a new feeling of belonging, the persistence of the dichotomized organization of our representation of togetherness sets important limits to our potential to re- think the ties bonding us to new incomers.



1 For a quick view of the influence of lobbies on the Vatican and of Catholic organizations such as Opus Dei when recogniz- ing the “religious inheritance” in the project of the European Constitution, see Terras, C., “Bajo la presión de las iglesias”, [“Under pressure from the churches”] in Le monde diplomatique, (Spanish versión) January 2004. It is possible to gain access to the campaign of the Fédération Humaniste Européenne (Free Univer- sity of Brussels) against article 51 of the new bill at


2 Different types of ethnical or cultural belonging give rise to no less diverse religious experiences, including the minimal 30% of those who claim not to practice their religion or those who without turning their back on Islam consider themselves to be members of lay society. With regards to this diversity of Is- lam, among which liberal versions that fight to mold to the Eu- ropean concept of citizenship stand out, see the works contained in AlSayyad, N., y Castells, M. (2002). See the website of the in- ternational movement of moslem gays and lesbians (www.al- fatiha.net) or the references made to the moslem women’s movement in www.webislam.com


AlSayyad, N. Y Castells, M., Muslim Europe or Euro-Islam. Cul- ture and citizenship in the age of globalization, United Press of

America, Lanham (Maryland), 2002.

Alexander, J., “Durkeimian sociology and cultural studies to- day”, Jeffrey Alexander (ed.), Durkheimian sociology: cultural studies, University of Cambridge Press, Cambridge, 1988.

Alexander, J. (ed.), Real civil societies: dilemmas of institutionaliza- tion, Sage, London, 1998.

Connerton, P., How societies remember, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (U.K.),1989.

Castells, M., The power of identity (The information society, vol. II), Blackwell, Cambridge (Mass.), 1997.

Durkheim, E., The elementary forms of the religious life, Free Press, New York, 1912 (1965).

Elias, N., Logiques de exclusion, Fayard, París, 1997.

Hentsch, T., Imaginig the Middle East, Black Rose Books, Montreal, 1992.

Huntington, S., The clash of civilizations, Foreign Affairs, 72, summer: 22- 49, 1993.

Huntington, S., The clash of civilizations and the remaking of the world order, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1996.

Nash, K., The ‘cultural turn’ in sociological theory, Sociology, 35 (1): 71-92, 2001.

Said, E., Orientalism, Vintage, NewYork, 1978.

Sassen, S., ¿Perdiendo el control? La soberanía en la era de la globalización, Bellaterra, Barcelona, 2001.

Shaheen, J., The TV Arab, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green (Ohio), 1984.

Lambini, D., Postnational citizenship, in Ethnic and racial stud- ies, 24 (2), pp. 195-217, 2001.

Terrén, E., La ironía de la solidaridad: cultura, sociedad civil y discursos sobre el conflicto racial de El Ejido, Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 102: 125-146, 2002.

Touraine, A., Pourrons-nous vivre ensemble? Égaux et différents, Fayard, Paris, 1997.



Today’s wired global village, created by the ad- vanced technologies in communication and the result- ant interconnectivity, has allowed mass media messages and symbols to become more mobile and less fixed in space and time. Television is the medium par excellence that can diffuse worldwide dominant messages, and has therefore been considered by media and cultural theo- rists an imperialist1 vehicle. That is, it is viewed as a ve- hicle for injecting a particular ideology into the hearts and minds of viewers everywhere. However, later theo- rists in the field have decided that some credit should be given to audiences, who are active decoders rather than passive receivers of media messages, and that the effects of the media are in reality limited. This angle, too, has had its faults, for it over-credited audiences with the power of using the media wholly in their own interests

Diana Cotrau

The Culturally Situated Young Romanian Viewer and the New Television


Lecturer, ESP Depart- ment, Faculty of Letters, Babes Bolyai University, Cluj, Romania. E-mail:

[email protected]

Abstract: Our aim in this paper is to identify the ways in which the new Romanian television has removed itself from its former (communist) status and orienta- tion, and has tuned in to the global media, in turn undergoing changes prompted, on the one hand, by new communication technologies and, on the other hand, by geopolitical changes per se occurring world- wide. We intend to show how the new types of media, particularly television, having interconnected consum- ers everywhere into a global village, and having facilitated the segmentation of audiences and the targeting of audiences with narrowly focused mes- sages, have impacted young Romania television view- ers. We will also try to track the ways in which global media symbols interact with local specificities and are socially mediated with the direct intervention of culturally situated local young audiences. In addition, we hope to prove that young Romanian television viewers are adept managers of the multivalent televi- sion messages, which they successfully decode in ways that serve their subcultural interests and needs.


and to their own gratification. The new individual viewer seems to belong to a model of society2 consti- tuted by a range of subcultures whose members form shifting alliances and become different viewing subjects at different times. Under these circumstances, an analy- sis presuming the individual viewer’s or collective view- ers’ tastes and interests to be invariable would build on a false foundation. Nevertheless, with some allowances for the concept of the viewer as indeterminate, we in- tend to focus on an ethnographic generational group, the young Romania television viewer, and to utilize some of the investigative focus provided therein.

In the following we intend to make a cursory over- view of the new type of television found in Romania (since 1989), of the proliferation of television channels, domestic or imported, and how they have ‘prompted’

the emergence of niche audiences in general and one niche audience in particular: young television viewers, grouped into a community of taste and subcultural in- terests. Our intention is to gain some insight into how they react to global symbols as mediated by television.

We will, hopefully, prove that young people in Roma- nia, even if circumscribed culturally by the media, can and do appropriate the media messages in ways that show them to be literate television consumers and selec- tive decoders of its multicultural messages.

The dexterity of these viewers emerges when con- fronted with the eclectic content of the television mes- sages, with the bombarding flux of symbols that can create confusion and disorientation in the viewer who, until not long ago could consume a very limited amount

of television (2 hours per day, nearing 1989) with highly censored content, purged of any and all western cultural values.

Post-Communist Romanian

Television And Young Audiences

Romanian television registered a complete turn- about after the fall of communism. At least two impor- tant directions can be mentioned in what regards its radical change. On the one hand, it rapidly adjusted to current global transformations in terms of technology and marketing policy, dramatically increasing the num- ber of channels as well as the diversity of programs.

This eventually led to the narrow circumscription of Romanian audiences by personal and cultural prefer- ences.3 Such new channels as ACASA Channel, which targets an almost exclusively female audience, Sports Television, which targets a primarily male audience, MTV Romania, which targets young viewers, have gone beyond simply segmenting the formerly mass Romanian audience, polarize viewers into distinct factions. The in- teractive quality of the new media also contributed to the division of the overall audiences into niches. On the other hand, the Romanian television has reformulated its dominant messages and multiplied its content, while the newer options with multicultural values have also contributed to dividing the audience into ever-narrower viewing segments.


culturally situated viewer, segmented and fragmented audiences, imported ideology, crosscultural and transcultural media symbols, encoding and decoding, localization



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