Which countries show a significant cultural heterogeneity?

European identity

Jürgen Gerhards

To person

Dr. phil. born 1955; Professor of Sociology at the University of Leipzig.
Address: University of Leipzig, Institute for Cultural Studies, Beethovenstr. 15, 04107 Leipzig.
Email: [email protected]

Publications among others: The modern age and their first names. An invitation to the sociology of culture, Wiesbaden 2003; (with the assistance of Michael Hölscher) Cultural differences in the European Union. A comparison between member countries, candidate countries and Turkey, Wiesbaden 2004 (i.E.).

The values ​​considered important by the EU are accepted by the citizens of the old and new member states. They receive less support from the people of the two countries in the next accession round.


Turkey has had the status of an associate member of what was then the European Economic Community (EEC) since 1963, and since then the country has knocked on the door of the European Union (EU) asking for membership. The European Council will decide in December 2004, on the basis of an examination and recommendation by the Commission, whether the Community will enter into accession negotiations with Turkey or not. At the center of the political debate about Turkey's EU membership are not so much the economic differences between the EU and Turkey as possible cultural differences. Critics of Turkey's accession claim that the current members of the EU and Turkey differ fundamentally from one another due to a completely different history, different spiritual-historical traditions, but above all due to a different religious orientation, and that Turkey therefore does not have sufficient cultural similarities the current EU member states. Some of those in favor of Turkey's accession doubt that the cultural differences between Turkey and Europe are fundamental; Others hope that Turkey's membership in the EU will accelerate the adaptation of Turkey to so-called Western values; still others emphasize the enrichment that can be associated with cultural heterogeneity.

An answer to the question of whether Turkey is culturally suitable for the EU or not requires on the one hand the definition and justification of a point of reference which, as it were, provides the guideline by which one can judge whether Turkey fits the EU or not. On the other hand, it requires an empirical determination of the current cultural situation in Turkey and the member states of the EU. By contrasting the two cultures, statements can be made about the extent to which Turkey is culturally compatible with the European Union or not. [1]

*Editor's note: On the subject, see also From Politics and Contemporary History, B 33–34 / 2004.