chapter  3
National identity and immigration in the concepts of right-wing extremism and societal security
ByMARC GRIMM
Pages 18

Among the topics that will set the course for the future development of the European Union is whether it will be successful in transcending nationalism within the Member States. The high level of right-wing extremist attitudes and the success of right-wing parties in Europe in this respect are a pressing problem. Studies have shown a high degree of hostility towards foreigners1 within Europe (cf. Zick, Küpper & Hovermann 2011: 54). The numbers also indicate a positive correlation of prejudices and the demand for assimilation of immigrants (cf. 109f.). This makes it necessary to further examine the criteria that foster hostility towards foreigners and the concepts being used to capture immigration and the hostility towards immigrants. This chapter makes one of the first attempts to relate the concepts of right-wing extremism and societal security. Both are closely related to policy making, and both are applied within public administration. In both, attitudes towards immigrants and national identity are central. However, the concepts have never been related as they are used in different fields of research. The research of right-wing extremism is strong in political science, sociology, psychology and pedagogy, while societal security evolved within security studies, a subfield of international relations studies. The concept of societal security was originally designed to explain the development of ethnic conflicts by focusing how one group constitutes itself against others. Even though one might expect that these two concepts share a common normative basis, this chapter argues that the values and political ideas they manifest are highly contradictory. While in the dominant concepts of right-wing extremism, nationalism and hostility towards immigrants indicate right-wing extremism, those attitudes within the concept of societal security must be understood as a legitimate reaction to the threat that immigration poses towards a cultural group’s identity. So, how is it possible that two concepts, which are institutionally applied, can come to be so normatively contradictory?