A communicative gap: bourgeois Jews and Protestants in the public space of early imperial Germany

Jensen, Uffa (2006) A communicative gap: bourgeois Jews and Protestants in the public space of early imperial Germany. History of European Ideas, 32 (3). pp. 295-312. ISSN 0191-6599

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Abstract

The article takes a novel look at the extensive debates about the “Jewish Question” in early Imperial Germany by analysing how Jews and Protestants communicated with each other. These debates were shaped by two hitherto neglected facts: by the character of pamphlets as an anarchic media and by the bourgeois background of their Jewish and Protestant authors. The “Jewish Question” played a considerable role in the public communication of the German educated middle-class, urging mostly Jews and Protestants to raise their voice. Their different motivations to do so are discussed and the overall make-up of this body of literature is delineated. The specific media structure of the debates and especially the problematic power of pamphlet literature seemed to jeopardize the established ways of bourgeois communication. Thus, the very structure of the “Jewish Question” itself appeared to epitomize the contradictory positions of Jews in the public sphere and in middle-class culture. By briefly characterizing the Jewish responses to the challenges in these debates, the article concludes that in this structure a communicative gap between bourgeois Jews and Protestants became visible. At the same time, this serves as a concrete example to refute a dominance-free, Habermasian concept of the public sphere and to highlight the importance of the ability to universalize one's position in the public communication of 19th-century Germany.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DD History of Germany
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:40
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2012 08:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/27371
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