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The term Othering ( Engl. Other "different") refers to the differentiation and distancing the group to which one feels they belong ( ingroup ), from other groups .

The concept of othering has its origins in the works of a number of philosophers. Hegel, for example, dealt with the question of how the perception of the self relates to the construction and demarcation of the other in the chapter on domination and servitude of his phenomenology of the mind . Simone de Beauvoir used the concept as part of her theory that men are socially regarded as the norm and women as the other. Othering was later used in the post-colonial writings of Edward Said (1978) and Johannes Fabian (1983). In 1985 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak expanded the othering concept and used it systematically for the first time. In the essay The Rani of Sirmur , she analyzed the diaries of British colonial powers in India and identified three dimensions of othering.

Othering finds its way into continental philosophy and critical theory as well as theories of ethnology , social work , sociology , cultural and social anthropology and group pedagogy . A commonly used German translation does not yet exist. Julia Reuter translated “othering” as “change”. Another common translation is " foreign- making".


Othering describes the process of highlighting oneself and one's social image by classifying people with other characteristics as different, "foreign". There is therefore an emphatic distinction and distancing from "the other" instead, on the grounds of sex , the religious affiliation, the ethnic origin, nationality , social status within a society such. B. Class affiliation , ideology or even supposed biological criteria for differentiation between people (cf. race or racism ).

Othering means comparing oneself with others, differentiating oneself from them and distancing oneself from them, whereby the idea exists that people and societies differ considerably from their own social group through their way of life, culture or other characteristics.

Othering can lead to images of the enemy , especially xenophobia , if members of a cultural group fear that “foreign” influences would spread to their “own” culture and threaten it. An example to illustrate this: If a group describes itself as “chosen”, it inevitably distinguishes itself from the “non-chosen”. If this idea is combined with the fear of being “contaminated” by others, the - often downright fanatical - idea arises that it is valuable or necessary to keep one's own group “pure” from the influences of the excluded groups. If this idea of ​​“cultural purity” mixes with an idea of ​​“biological purity”, this ultimately leads to racism. ( See also, for example, the issue of racial mixing in National Socialism and in other fascist ideologies.)

The idea that the outgroup fundamentally differentiates itself from its own group and is seen as not of equal value leads to a legitimation of unequal treatment. The socio-psychological mechanism described as othering is one of the foundations for discrimination against minorities and hostility processes between different groups in general (e.g. ethnic groups or religious communities ).

Othering manifests itself socially in many forms such as:


  • Maureen Maisha Eggers : Racized Power Difference as an Interpretative Perspective in Critical Whiteness Research in Germany. On the topicality and normativity of discursive mediations of hierarchically related racialized constructions. In: Maureen Maisha Eggers, Grada Kilomba, Peggy Piesche, Susan Arndt (eds.): Myths, masks and subjects. Critical whiteness research in Germany . Münster 2005, ISBN 3-89771-440-X .
  • Kerstin Gernig (Ed.): Foreign bodies. On the construction of the other in European discourses. Dahlem University Press, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-934504-04-3 .
  • María do Mar Castro Varela , Paul Mecheril (ed.): The demonization of others. Criticism of racism in the present . transcript, Bielefeld 2016, ISBN 978-3-8376-3638-3 .
  • Nelly Oudshoorn: A natural order of things? Reproductive Science and the Politics of "Othering". In: Ilse Lenz, Lisa Mense, Charlotte Ullrich (eds.): Reflexive bodies? - To modernize sexuality and reproduction. Opladen 2004, ISBN 3-8100-3922-5 .
  • Julia Reuter: Orders of the Other. On the problem of one's own in the sociology of the foreign. Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2002, ISBN 3-933127-84-X .
  • Iris Marion Young : Five Forms of Oppression. In: Christoph Horn, Nico Scarano: Philosophy of Justice . Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-518-29163-7 .

See also

the categories

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Lajos Brons: Othering, an Analysis . In: Transcience. 6, No. 1, 2015, pp. 69-90. ISSN  2191-1150 .
  2. Sune Qvotrup Jensen: othering, identity formation and agency . In: Qualitative Studies. 2, No. 2, 2011, pp. 63-78.
  3. Larissa Schindler: Review: Julia Reuter (2011). Gender and Body: Studies on the Materiality and Staging of Social Reality. In: Forum Qualitative Social Research / Forum Qualitative Social Research. 13 (2), Art. 6. http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs120268 .
  4. Jochen Dreher, Peter Stegmaier (ed.): On the insurmountability of cultural difference: Basic theoretical reflections . Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2007, ISBN 978-3-89942-477-5 , p. 117 .
  5. Claudia Benthien, Hans Rudolf Velten (ed.): German studies as cultural studies: an introduction to new theoretical concepts . Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek 2002, ISBN 3-499-55643-X , p. 72.
  6. ^ Andreas Zick: Sociopsychological Discrimination Research . In: Albert Scherr, Aladin El-Mafaalani, Gökçen Yüksel (ed.): Handbook Discrimination . Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2017, p. 61 ( springer.com [PDF]).