Socially marginalized group

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Social fringe group (also in Swiss : marginalized) is a term for very different parts of the population that are considered to be non- integrated within society . The basis of this designation is an idea of ​​society, which is characterized by the two assumptions of a (somewhat) uniform and well-functioning "inside" on the one hand, and a non-integrated or integrable " outsider " on the other. The point of reference for the question of “integration” can either be participation in social wealth ( property and income ) or agreement with regard to prevailing social norms and laws; Overlaps with regard to these two starting points are also possible.

The only personal and deficit-oriented term " anti-social elements ", in this context, commonly used dates back to the 19th century and was in the era of National Socialism as exclusion category and as such as a prisoner category in concentration camps used ( see below ).


Thus, marginalized social groups initially include groups of people with particular burdens who, in their situation, are no longer able to provide for their own living. This applies, for example, to people who are dependent on wage labor due to a lack of property , but cannot do it because of discrimination , because of their disability , their children, their age, their origin or their illness. This category also includes people who are considered “not normal” or socially deviant in everyday discourse . B. Homeless , released prisoners, or drug addicts . In many cases, the criterion “insufficient participation in social wealth” applies here.

The majority society also assigns ethnic , religious or other cultural minorities the characteristics and stigmata of marginalized social groups if they are not considered to be integrated into the prevailing social and cultural structure and are located on the periphery of the majority society. This was true in the past e.g. B. for the Polish minority in Germany and applies today z. B. in relation to the Muslim minority. The fact that members of some ethnic minorities also regularly carry out lower-paid jobs with a low status, in turn, refers to the first-mentioned criterion.

Members of marginalized social groups are more likely to be victims of defamation and discrimination . These range from disadvantages in many areas of society to ridiculing through “jokes” and verbal abuse to avoidance behavior and finally massive physical attacks . Verbal downgrading can also be pronounced with good intentions if, when using a label, the real stigmata that go with it are faded out, such as: B. in the majority society labels "Knasti", "Asi" or "Gypsy".

On the other hand, members of certain professional groups or minorities have always had a certain fascination (cf. the "Gypsy romanticism ", traveling people ).


The following are considered to be marginalized social groups:

  • Marginalized social groups who are excluded from the social system as “untouchables” for racist reasons, such as the Dalit in India
  • People who are discriminated against because of their descent from a despised class, such as the Buraku in Japan
  • City tramp (" Berber "). At the beginning of a “Berber” career there is often homelessness , which comes about after the apartment rent can no longer be paid. Reasons for this can be, for example: bankruptcy, over-indebtedness and lack of unemployment benefits for self-employed or freelancers who have gone bankrupt. In addition, there are usually stresses that those affected cannot cope with on their own. Other causes, but often also consequences, are, for example, long-term unemployment , divorce or separation from a partner, dependence on alcohol and illegal drugs , incomplete rehabilitation after a stay in prison, psychological problems. Homeless people who have a certain need for their own subculture and togetherness sometimes find unofficial forms of living in Germany, but these are often not tolerated. The East Side City in Berlin , which was evacuated by the police years ago , between the Spree and the East Side Gallery , where people lived in partly scrap- looking vehicles, or the bambulists in Hamburg can not be described as homeless, but as a self-determined way of life . In the United States , homeless people who travel across the country as stowaways on freight trains are called hobos .
  • As Pedestrians or street children are children and adolescents who have run away from their parents' home or homes and live without a permanent address. You can often find yourself in big cities where “something is going on”. They are exposed to particular risks and often practice prostitution , drug trafficking and various forms of petty crime for reasons of need .
  • The mentally ill have difficulty finding access to vocational training and employment. Depending on the clinical picture, they are considered unreliable and are therefore avoided. As a result, this group of people is often dependent on support from public funds. In addition, problems in dealing with other people - isolation, fears and orientation difficulties - make integration more difficult.
  • Drug addicts are considered to be the most marginalized social group. The public image of the junkie lying on the roadside is usually associated with weakness of character, laziness, lack of discipline, public danger, immorality, crime. However, there is also a larger proportion of drug users who do not attract attention because they are well integrated and the people concerned have well-paid jobs.
  • Former prisoners are also viewed with suspicion and resentment by society. Resocialization planning after release from prison usually does not take place or takes place only inadequately. They hardly have a chance of getting a job or an apartment if they do not hide a prison term. Especially those imprisoned for a longer period of time often no longer have any social contacts and are often unable to manage their life outside of an institution on their own. The number of relapses is extremely high, and in view of the many obstacles, resorting to old acquaintances and survival strategies in a criminal environment is obvious.
  • Ethnically and socially marginalized groups such as the various subgroups of the Roma
  • Descendants of the "old" poverty in the majority of society who are still "traveling" or who have now settled in social hot spots. For example the woonwagenbewoners in the Netherlands , in the German and French-speaking countries Jenische and Yéniches, in the Scandinavian countries "traveling people" (Swedish " resandefolket "), which is a heterogeneous ethnic-social group of not only, but mainly Scandinavian Roma is meant) or the Irish Pavee . Groups like these are exposed in the majority population to distrust and the blanket accusation of "anti-sociality", in the case of ethnically alien groups like the Roma, often also ethnically motivated xenophobia and racism . The often solidified life in the social hotspot or on the basis of a non-permanent niche economy (scrapping, peddling, scissors grinding) and inadequate structural measures result in disadvantages in areas such as housing, education and welfare.

The affiliations to the groups can overlap, resulting in multiple stigmatization.

Help and self-help

In western countries there is a network of professionally or voluntarily organized help for socially marginalized groups. Social workers and social pedagogues who work with marginalized groups are mostly employed by charities and social institutions, or work as street workers in the municipalities. In addition, there are voluntary self-help groups, friendship and help associations for certain target groups and charitable initiatives from everything in the church environment. In the course of the savings in public budgets, funds for marginal group work are being cut.

Members of socially marginalized groups are often in absolute poverty and have to develop imaginative methods in order to nourish themselves. According to German food law , supermarkets are obliged to dispose of food after the best-before date has expired , but this food is usually still edible immediately afterwards. This is the basis of the American concept of the “Food Bank”, which has been adopted as a table in numerous German places since 1993 .

"Asocial" in National Socialism

The National Socialist terminology defined “ anti-socials ” as people who undermine the health of the “ national body ” and take away the scarce resources of the “healthy” and economically efficient members of the “national community” without doing anything for the “national economy” themselves. The term “alien to the community” was synonymous with “anti-social”. A distinction was made between “foreign race” “asocial”, who were collectively considered to be Roma and Sinti, and “ German-blooded ” members of the majority population, who were categorized into numerous groups, some of which overlapped: social groups such as “laborers”, welfare recipients, Yenish rural travelers , Homeless , beggars , prostitutes , homosexuals , psychosocial groups such as addicts (e.g. alcoholics ), "idlers", "troublemakers", unadjusted (e.g. swing youth ) and others. Roma and Sinti were excluded for both ethnic-racist and racial reasons, the marginal groups of the German majority population for reasons of racial and sanitary reasons.

The Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda initiated the first massive Reich-wide measure against homeless people and beggars in September 1933. Thousands were arrested in large raids, which were carried out openly by the police and SA. The aim was to positively impress the majority population with the fight against “idlers” and “parasites”, to intimidate members of “anti-social” groups and to concentrate private donations on the winter relief organization that was just set up .

In the years that followed, up to around 1938, the initiative for activities against marginalized and subproletarian minorities lay largely with the municipalities and there above all with the welfare and other welfare institutions, which with numerous restrictive measures and harassment prevented those entitled from exercising their social rights. Since 1934 “labor welfare camps” have been set up in the municipalities.

According to the basic decree on the “ Preventive Combat of Crime ” of December 14, 1937, anyone “without being a professional and habitual criminal, endangering the general public through their anti-social behavior” could be sent to a concentration camp as part of preventive detention by the criminal police .

1938 in several arrests, including the "Action Arbeitsscheu Empire ", in April and in June 1938 more than 10,000 "foreign race" Roma, Gypsies and Jews as well as members of numerous "deutschblütiger" groups as "anti-social elements" in the Buchenwald concentration camp , Dachau Concentration Camp , KZ Mauthausen , Sachsenhausen concentration camp and other concentration camps abducted. They had to wear a black triangle for identification .

From 1940 so-called labor education camps were established, in which people who were not only supposedly or actually not working, but inadequately working people were imprisoned. A not inconsiderable part of the workforce did not survive the detention, which usually lasted several weeks, mainly as a deterrent. Many of those imprisoned there as "labor saboteurs" were foreign, but mainly Soviet and Polish forced laborers .

From the end of February 1943 thousands of Sinti and Roma - in the Nazi diction "Gypsies" and "Gypsy hybrids" - following the Himmler's " Auschwitz Decree " of December 16, 1942, were "born asocial" in the "Gypsy family camp " in Auschwitz-Birkenau deported, which only a few survived. “In contrast to other people referred to as 'anti-social', the Sinti and Roma had no chance of integration under National Socialism. A non-Gypsy 'work-shy' could change his behavior under certain circumstances, 'improve' himself in the sense of welfare authorities and the criminal police ... Sinti and Roma, on the other hand, remained 'Gypsies' or 'Gypsy hybrids', regardless of their respective behavior in the work process. "

“Asocial” and reparations after 1945 in Germany

The stigmatization of members of these groups continued after the collapse of National Socialism. The derogatory complexes of ideas remained vital in everyday thinking, in politics, in jurisprudence, in science and far beyond 1945 z. T. effective until today. Even in the associations of persecuted people, both in the GDR and in the Federal Republic, “anti-socials” were rejected and defamed (Raul Hilberg: “mainly habitual and sexual criminals”). Since the Federal German law on compensation only recognized persecution for political, racial, religious or ideological motives, unlike in the GDR, “asocials” were fundamentally excluded from any compensation. Until the 1960s, this was true even for Sinti and Roma, despite obvious racial persecution, who until then had generally been exempted from “ reparationpayments , provided that those who were often ignorant of the written act had not been induced to give up small one-off payments . In addition, the victims had to fear that they would become known as such and face renewed public condemnation.

It was only in the 1980s that a further interpretation of the term “ racism ” opened up restricted opportunities for members of some subgroups of the “anti-social” to have access to compensation. To this day, however, there has been no comprehensive material and ideal recognition of this form of Nazi persecution.

See also


  • Friedrich Fürstenberg,  marginal groups in modern society, in: Soziale Welt, Vol. 16 (1965), pp. 236–245
  • Bernd-Ulrich Hergenmöller (Ed.): Marginal groups of late medieval society: A handbook and study book. Warendorf 1990.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See e.g. B.
    • Susanne Karstedt: Social fringe groups and sociological theory, in: M. Brusten / J. Hohmeier, Stigmatisierung 1 , pp. 169–196, online version .
    • Monika Gebauer: Stigmatization of the mentally disabled by psychiatric institutions, in: M. Brusten / J. Hohmeier, Stigmatisierung 2 , pp. 113–127, online version .
    • Kurt Buser, Thomas Schneller, Klaus Wildgrube: Medical Psychology, Medical Sociology , Elsevier GmbH 2003, p. 240
  2. Archived copy ( memento of the original from July 10, 2017 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. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. On the origin of the term "non-community" cf. Wolfgang Ayaß : "Accordingly, for example, is asocial ..." On the language of social exclusion in National Socialism , in: Contributions to the history of National Socialism 28 (2012), pp. 69–89.
  4. Printed by Wolfgang Ayaß (arr.): "Community foreigners". Sources on the persecution of "anti-social" 1933–1945 , Koblenz 1998, no. 50
  5. Wolfgang Ayaß : "Asoziale" im Nationalozialismus , Stuttgart 1995, p. 200f.