Fragile bonds of recognition: Exploring the social underpinnings of sentiments of exclusion in post-1989 East Germany

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Recently, as a corollary of intensified efforts to understand the rise of right-wing populism, the topic of social recognition has gained renewed attention in sociological research. It seems that a sense of misrecognition and exclusion is shaped as much by cultural as by economic factors. Just how these elements are interlinked, however, remains a black box. In this article, I offer an empirical contribution to this problem: I demonstrate that social recognition is nourished in everyday interpersonal relations and that people negotiate ideas of economic deservingness in their social surroundings-so much so, in fact, that they make social ties dependent on them. The article studies the case of the post-1989 societal shifts in formerly communist-ruled East Germany, a context marked by a pervasive sense of social exclusion today. In interviews with 41 individuals who lived through this rupturing process, I identify a crucial dynamic of social misrecognition in how respondents evaluate other peoples' strategies of coping with the economic fallout of this time and how they draw-often deeply personal-boundaries between themselves and others on these grounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-278
Number of pages32
JournalEuropean Journal of Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022
Externally publishedYes

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 504018 Sociology of culture


  • Deservingness
  • Post-communist Germany
  • Social Recognition
  • Symbolic Boundaries

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