Conference Paper

From segregation and assimilation to a multicultural society.

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Abstract

segregation, assimilation & possibilities of changes towards multicultural societies. The impulses that were set towards the research done on our behalf were derived from studies by Thomas C. Shelling, the political situation in Carinthia and a comparison of the situation six decades ago with the present. People tend to divide and segregate along a long line of criteria such as age, sex, income, language, religion, colour, origin, taste, income, social security or personal advantage. Quite a large number of theories exist that try to explain segregation. Five of the most popular theoretical approaches state that segregation takes place due to ecological, economic, intergroup, social-psychological and institutional motivated behaviour. “Segregation therefore refers to a process or a state which describes unequal distribution of population in a certain geographical space” (Fassmann 2002). As a society is made up of two kinds of populations, one being the majority and the others the minority, there is always a social stratification, which is the reason why segregation takes place. There is no society that is free of segregational phenomenas, the only observable differences are the points of extent and form. Segregation is therefore a highly interactive Matrix of economic as well as individual factors. Our theoretical research evaluates to which extent segregational theories apply to phenomenas concerning the exclusion and inclusion of the Slovene minority in Carinthia. The bilingual school system in Carinthia has - both historically and contemporarily - to be seen as a mirror of relations between majority and minority in Carinthia. Political decisions in the newly constitutioned Austria led to a change from obligatory bilingual school education to optional bilingual education in 1959. Intentions of clarifying ethnic categories led to vast pressure on families, not to enroll to bilingual education, with the result of having a small number enrolled – the category of „Slovenes“ - while the majority of those who opted to be „Carinthians“ changed to monolingual school education to avoid the pressure. Contemporarily, bilingual and multilingual education in Carinthia is seen more as an advantage. Almost every second child in southern Carinthia is enrolling to bilingual primary schools and Slovene education offers are used by a raising number of Carinthians. Education is no more ,filter‘ in ethnic categories. Carinthia is a protruding example for a social phenomenon of how language and culture can decrease or rather purposely be extincted within a few decades, though their roots are still sublimely present in native carinthian culture. As it is a social phenomenon which also concerns decision making it can be modelled using the agent based model strategy.

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