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Presence has the phenomenological meaning of presence and present in a respective spatial and temporal perspective. In colloquial language , the word presence describes a person's charisma.


The foreign word presence for presence and present was borrowed in the 17th century from the synonymous French présence , which goes back to the Latin praesentia for "present" and arose from the Latin praesens for "present".

In German, too, as in the Romance languages , the indifference of spatial and temporal appearances remains . The word presence is mostly used in those contexts in which the presence or presence of something should appear conspicuously or should be emphasized in a special way. In contrast to French présence , presence also implies availability and is then to be understood as a substantiation of the comparatively young adjective "present": something is present when it is immediately available - due to spatial presence or temporal presence.

Presence (spatial) and present (temporal) are indistinguishable in the Romance languages ​​and English, as is the case in Latin praesens . The word formation can only be broken down back into German with a lot of effort: something is present because there is no time before it is available, and no time goes by because it is present. The apparent tautology arises from the dissolution of the contained unity of the difference between space and time. In German, it is also difficult to describe spatial metaphors without temporal metaphors and temporal metaphors without spatial metaphors without auxiliary words.



The use of the word presence in military parlance ( “present!” = To the point”, i.e. to be available; see also military service in Austria) or in everyday language in the sense of presence of mind (“I am present” = "My mind is available"). At work, the duty to be present refers to an obligation to be present at the place of work , i.e. the obligation to be present and available there during working hours. On the one hand it can be an expectation as part of the organizational culture (also called presence culture or presence culture ), on the other hand it can also be a corresponding legal obligation of the employee , usually specified in the employment contract . In the workplace - in addition to availability in terms of time and space - executives in particular also require “motivational availability” through to an exclusive career and “dedication” to the company ( see also: Greedy Institutions and Hyperinclusion ). Not all forms of work organization require attendance. The trust-based working time is a model that normally expressly does not require attendance; In the case of teleworking, there may be either no compulsory presence or a different type of compulsory presence such as an obligation to be present at the home office ( home work ).

The Seventh Family Report of the Federal Government (2006) found that a culture of presence dominates in which employees are measured in terms of their motivation by their continuous presence at the workplace. According to the statements in this report , a “dominant male- union work culture” often associated with a presence culture means that fewer women are present in management circles, that family-based reductions in working hours are opposed by men, and that “in management circles, socially important decisions are made by people who have nothing to do with the everyday life of most people - families, children, the elderly and people who are excluded in other ways ".

There are other contexts in which presence denotes the availability of something.

In a reference library , a book is not just simply present or present, but “present” because the mode of its availability can be expressed in a special way: it is not borrowed, and that ensures that it is 'at hand' because it is always there . But the constant presence of the book on the shelf is just as uninteresting for a user as the time it spends there. Reference library is a suitable term, however, as an instrumental benefit is described with the connotation of availability. In the case of the book, the user is only interested in the possibility of access at any time.


Presence that can be ascribed to someone refers to being conspicuous in their presence or presence. As indicated above, military patrols can show presence just like police patrols . 'At all times' (see above) and conspicuity are related in the case of the presence shown. The presence of law and order at all times (or 'omnipresence') must be demonstrated by conspicuity, since the law cannot be everywhere at any time (not even in the form of the police) (although by definition it should be, since it applies always and everywhere). In general, from an administrative point of view, the need for the term presence seems to be increasing to the same extent as the complexity and size of the structures make a constant simultaneous presence in the true sense impossible.

Presence (person)

If someone appears particularly conspicuous in society, one speaks of presence also in connection with individual persons . Someone can gain presence through the way he or she speaks, addresses conversation partners, etc. What is meant is less a mere behavioral problem than a kind of individual charisma. “To have” presence means that others perceive you as somehow “intensely present” because of your appearance, and this impression is of a certain social relevance. A further question is whether this should refer to the emergence of physical, personal or social attributes in a specific case. The category “presence” puts the answer in the context of such parameters as time (simultaneous / non-simultaneous), space (near / far), emphasis (conspicuous / inconspicuous) and power (available / unavailable).

Media presence and absence

As in social systems , people can also achieve a presence in media systems , i.e. a media presence: A politician will endeavor to be present in the media, in particular to secure attention through frequent or spectacular appearances . The presence of politicians is measured on the Internet by various companies. In this sense too, presence is something like 'increased presence'. To be conspicuous as a present means to be present in the room that is seen by the media as public.

In connection with the functions of the mass media , the term presence reveals its postmodern meaning. It is also the word of an era in which a presence in the media can be important. Those who want to be present want to do the opposite, namely to be able to rule out absence in the sense of a media absence as much as possible.

In this way, questions about presence or absence can only be asked when there is also the possibility of effectively disappearing from the media, although one continues to exist . As a certain person (not: as a real human being) there is definitely cause for fear in complex, modern societies. B. for a politician. A politician who is “not present in the media” does not exist (as such). When he stops to present himself , he disappears (namely: "from the scene", as it is vividly called in an equally recent German idiom).

Stage presence and co-presence

In the theater - from the viewer's point of view - there is talk of stage presence. This does not simply mean the fact that a performer stands out on stage as 'present' or 'present'. At first glance, the phenomenon does not seem to be about 'availability' either. Rather, the term describes the quality of a person, or their talent, to have a special 'charisma' (also: 'broadcast'), to appear particularly 'safe' or 'natural' in stage situations.

What exactly stage presence has to do with “presence” in the true sense remains unclear. The concept seems to require explanation, in particular, because stages themselves are intended to make people noticed. Stage presence would therefore be the characteristic of attracting additional attention in this conspicuous situation. Or maybe actually: not to attract attention as particularly prominent there. The question of what stage presence is should therefore be explained in more detail by sociology and theater theory.

In theater theory there is also widespread talk of “physical co-presence” (also “(co) presence”), which describes the noticeable presence of several people at the same time. The concept of stage-specific presence is, so to speak, extended to the auditorium and relates to the presence of actors and observers. Those who 'are' co-present have the impression of 'sharing time', and this happens with special attention to the perception of physical aspects as corporeality .

The idea of ​​a "co-" presence would have an influence on the meaning dimension of time (present) contained in the term presence. While presence in the sense of “at all times” serves as an auxiliary concept for the appearance of permanence (see availability and emphasis ), presence as co-presence expresses the impression of simultaneity (and therefore requires a clear distinction between “simultaneity” and “present” "). Simultaneousness (the coincidence of events) in theater means to a certain extent the coincidence of the presences of the actors and the audience. If one understands time as a symbol that "something else happens" at a certain moment, then co-presence is the symbol that what is still happening is spatially present . The talk of co-presence as an aesthetic phenomenon makes sense if one imagines that time is "perceived" in a special way: not as the difference between two points in time in the course of events, but as the present - caused by the presentation of the actors. So time would literally become visible in the theater for the participants, in the form of physical presence . But here too time remains a phenomenon of difference, because it is experienced as the physical presence of several who are separated from one another. The concept of co-presence therefore refers to the cognitive-theoretical problem of time perception .

Presence of shares (business administration)

Attendance is the number of voting shares reported and present on the day of the general meeting of a stock corporation or limited partnership , expressed as a percentage of the total voting share capital. Empirical studies show that the banks' voting rights in custody accounts lead to an increase in attendance at general meetings. The reason is that many shareholders do not use existing power of attorney and Internet alternatives and thus contribute to the deterioration of the presence. The higher the attendance, the lower the risk of random majorities, which can lead to unexpected or inexpedient voting results.

The presence has decreased significantly since 1998 as a result of the KonTraGesetz . While the average presence at DAX 30 companies was 60.95% in 1998, it fell to 45.87% in 2005; it has increased again since 2007 (56.42%). The increase in the presence after 2005 is likely to be due in particular to the UMAG coming into force in November 2005, which, among other things, abolished the deposit requirements as a prerequisite for participation.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Presence  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden: The foreign dictionary. Mannheim 2007, Lemma Presence.
  2. Duden: The dictionary of origin. Etymology of the German language. Mannheim 2007, Lemma present.
  3. Wolfgang Pfeifer (Ed.): Etymological Dictionary of German. Munich 2000
  4. A. Bultemeier et al .: The career mechanism of modern companies . In: Isabell M. Welpe, Prisca Brosi, Lisa Ritzenhöfer et al. (Ed.): Selection of men and women as executives: Perspectives from business, science, media and politics , Springer, 2015, ISBN 978-3-658-09469-0 , Chapter 40.3.4 "Career integration: The exclusivity of a career" , P. 444 ff .
  5. Seventh Family Report - Family between Flexibility and Reliability - Perspectives for a Life Course- Related Family Policy and Statement by the Federal Government. (PDF; 2.9 MB) April 26, 2006, p. 235 , accessed on January 29, 2015 .
  6. See Medimess ( Memento of the original from September 14, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Retrieved August 4, 2013 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. Erika Fischer-Lichte: Aesthetics of the Performative. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2004, pp. 63–126.
  8. The appropriate translation of the French word coprésence would then also be more 'co-presence', while the French for the German 'simultaneity' has the word simultaneité , ie 'simultaneity'. See e.g. B. the translation of the two terms in Jean-Paul Sartre, L'être et le néant. Essai d'ontologie phénoménologique : Ders., Being and Nothing. Attempt of a phenomenological ontology , trans. v. Hans Schöneberg and Traugott König, Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1994, p. 480.
  9. cf. the system-theoretical time determination in Niklas Luhmann in ders., Soziale Systeme , Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1984, p. 70.
  10. A complete overview is provided by Daniel Matthias Brickwell, On the Influence Potentials of Big Banks , Diss. 2002
  11. Bundestag printed matter 16/6136, page 4