Why is music seen as a friend

The problem of identity or "What actually is identity?"

Experiences of social upheaval, which lead to the dissolution of the “normal biography” and to the confrontation with diversity, raise the question for individuals as to what their own identity is attached to. From the point of view of some identity theories, the question of “mooring” is posed incorrectly; In terms of identity theory, due to individualization processes, the individual is no longer to be understood as something uniform, consistent, stable, but merely as a random accumulation of experiences.

In the following, the identity problem is first outlined and then discussed from the perspective of various identity concepts. The presented concepts differ according to how high they estimate the self-activity of individuals in the construction and maintenance of identity, and how they assess the stability, consistency and continuity of identity. Then forms of identity construction with music are dealt with: identification with music stars, identification with musical youth cultures, hybrid identity constructions with music in a migration context, self-expression processes in musical internet activities.

The sock

Identity has preoccupied me since I knitted a pair of socks for my grandfather in needlework class as a teenager. It took me a year just for the first sock. Would all my effort be able to prevent this sock from losing its identity one day - by darning my grandmother? How long does a sock stay by itself? After how many holes is she no longer herself or does she lose her identity? Or does it remain identical with itself, even if everything about it has gradually been replaced by stuffed things? Maybe even with different yarns and in different colors? Then what is the thing about the stuffed sock that is identical to the original sock? However, I never doubted for a second that my knitting skills would become a sock like any other and that it would still be a unique sock at the same time.

What distinguishes the sock from humans is that the sock does not care whether it is identical to itself, whether it is unique and what makes it part of the socks of this world. However, because people care very well, identity theories deal with the questions raised. Identity work is especially our effort to plug the holes in our identity and to make the stuffed fit, i.e. to create coherence and thus to remain identical with ourselves. Suitable - what for? To our being? To our picture of ourselves? To the picture of the other of us? About the image of ourselves that we have to negotiate with others?

The image of the sock addresses the questions and problems that identity theories deal with:

  • What is identity Something constructed, something that needs to be repaired, something that needs to be constantly redesigned - or something innate, something finished once and for all?
  • How does the process of identity development or identity construction work? All by itself - or is it work? What is used - as an identity anchor?
  • How important is continuity and consistency of identity for individuals? Is the postmodern individual fragmented?
  • Under what conditions is identity damaged and how is damaged identity (stigma) dealt with?
  • When do we speak of successful identity work and which resources does it depend on?

Identity from A to Z

This picture of a chain from A to Z (Fig. 1) relates to different conceptions and different aspects of identity. These are first outlined and then discussed against each other.

The picture is to be understood as a kind of "identity theory-historical" outline, at the beginning A. for the everyday understanding of identity or the “old essentialist self”, at the end Z for Zygmont Bauman's dissolution of identity. The understandings of identity lined up on this chain reflect the intensified identity debate in the 1990s following the individualization discourse. Between A and Z there are different understandings of reflective identity, i.e. identity that is mastered by the individuals themselves. At a central position lies “the identity category '' gender '', which has always been fundamental for people to locate themselves, and which has not been spared the social upheavals and political movements of the past decades” (Eickelpasch / Rademacher 2004: 95).

The everyday understanding of identity

At the beginning there is an understanding of identity, against which the more recent identity concepts have been vehemently demarcated for years. I call it the everyday understanding of identity. Mike Featherstone calls it “the old essentialist self”, which is linked to the belief that life is a meaningful project and that the individual is something unified, consistent (Featherstone 1995: 44f.). Heiner Keupp (2005) speaks of identity and biography images from the century lying behind us, who viewed the successful identity as something “stable, permanent and immovable” (2) and “the seamless integration of the subject into the respective socio-cultural field” (Keupp et al. 1999/2002: 16). According to Rolf Eickelpasch and Claudia Rademacher, it is a matter of the "classic, we have come to love the idea of ​​a stable, 'coherent', quasi-natural identity" (Eickelpasch / Rademacher 2004: 13).

Identity as a balancing act

Identity construction in the tradition of symbolic interactionism from George Herbert Mead (1934) to Erving Goffman (1959, 1961a, 1961b, 1963) to Lothar Krappmann (1969, 1997) is not a process that will be concluded at some point - not even at the end of adolescence can be viewed. Rather, identity must be constantly established and maintained in interactions. This is psychologically and socially necessary so that the individuals remain identical in diverse contexts of interaction. Because in them they have to actively deal with the fact that the interpretations and expectations of all interacting parties are incongruent, contradictory, inconsistent, conflict-prone and / or undefined. The maintenance of identity therefore presupposes, on the one hand, individual characteristics, which are indicated by symbols. In order for these to be understood and for interactions with others to take place at all, shared meanings and intersubjective symbol systems are required. That means that individuals have to be like no one - unique - and like everyone else - normal at the same time. Since this is impossible, they have no choice but to accept this ambivalence of identity and repeatedly pretend to be unique and normal. Maintaining identity is seen as a lifelong balancing act between these two poles. (See the attached PDF file Excursus: The identity concept of symbolic interactionism)

Identity construction as coping with psychosocial crises

Identity development according to Erik Erikson (1950) takes place within a predictable developmental phase of humans from infancy to old age. The defined stages of development are marked by eight transitions in the course of life and associated development tasks. Depending on the way in which these tasks or psychosocial crises are dealt with by the individuals, this gives rise to their basic strengths or weaknesses. Identity development is assigned to the adolescence phase of life; it results either in a stable identity or in identity confusion (Erikson 2005/1950: 241-264).

Hybrid identities

The term hybrid identities is used in the context of ethnic, national and cultural mixtures, be it in colonization, migration or border contexts (Eickelpasch / Rademacher 2004: 104-115). The term hybridity contains negative - racist - connotations such as "bastardization" and positive ascriptions such as "multiculturalism", characterized by creativity and subversiveness, which result from the mixture of dominant and marginal cultural symbol systems. In relation to the migration context, a simple - one-dimensional - view of the self-localization of migrants or people with a migration background initially gives the idea that hybrid identities are torn between the culture of origin and the culture of reception and must be imperfectly set up between “two halfway homes” (Iyer 1996 : 12, quoted from Eickelpasch / Rademacher 2004: 105). This deficient view of hybrid identity constructions of not belonging anywhere ignores the opportunities and resources that being at home in two or more cultures - possibly on a third chair - according to Naika Foroutan and Isabel Schäfer: hybrid identities are therefore “inter -, trans- and multicultural; its sponsors are bi-national, bi- or trinational; they either sit between the chairs or on a third chair; they are people with a migration background or 'other Germans'. "(Foroutan / Schäfer 2009: 12)

The concept of the so-called “third culture” (Featherstone 1995) means the creation of a culture that is neither national nor ethnic, which serves as the main cultural and social anchor of identity construction, for example a media-mediated global popular culture. This extends the one-dimensional view outlined above to migration-related identity, which supposedly has to be located exclusively between the culture of origin and the culture of reception. In addition, Stewart Hall (1994: 429-434) speaks of hybrid cultures that arise from the connection between the global and the local. By linking, for example, local orientations with globalized trends, fashion and music styles and condensing them into a style of their own, new aesthetic forms of self-expression are created. According to Jannis Androutsopoulos, examples are local manifestations of global hip-hop culture. In addition, there are hybrid forms in which global and local orientations are intertwined with locations in the host culture and in the culture of origin, for example in that the local orientation is that of a migrant city quarter (Androutsopoulos 2003).

Crazy gender

"How could such irrelevant biological differences between the sexes acquire an apparently enormous social significance in modern society?" (Goffman 1994/1977: 139). That is the starting point in Goffman's reflections on the construction of gender in interactions To be able to view biological differences as the causes of those social consequences that supposedly follow naturally from them requires social beliefs that are generated in institutional practices. These institutional practices have such an effect on social situations "... that they are presented in backdrops for representation of genderisms of both sexes. Many of these performances take on a ritual form that reinforces beliefs about the different 'natures' of the two sexes ... "(ibid .: 150). Goffman calls this mechanism "institutional reflexivity," meaning that these performances serve less to express natural differences than to create differences.

Doing gender has the same function: gender identities and the differences between the sexes are constantly produced and reproduced in social interactions. When constructing their identity, the actors use the "cultural material" that is presented to them in the form of attributions, expectations and in the form of behavioral models in families, day care centers, schools and other educational institutions, peer groups, music and the media. This cultural material is of gender stereotypes According to Thomas Eckes (2008), gender stereotypes are cognitive structures (ways of thinking) that contain socially shared knowledge about the “natural” characteristics of women and men, with male characteristics being rated higher than female characteristics. They contain descriptive and prescriptive components and work in equal measure as rules of conduct that reproduce the gender hierarchy. Individuals try - partly because of the ban on homosexuality - to want to be as different as possible from the opposite sex or from their stereotypical notions of the opposite sex e experience, participation and career opportunities and thus a whole range of possible identity designs.

According to Eickelpasch and Rademacher (2004: 94-104), the shift in the apparently immovable gender identity category and the opening up of diverse gender-related identity schemes has different roots:

  • the change in gender roles, in particular the role of women in the course of the individualization processes of the last decades of the 20th century,
  • the rejection of the - considered natural - bisexuality and the associated “forced heterosexuality” or the discrimination and criminalization of homosexual orientation, which goes back to the gay and lesbian movement, the women's movement and in particular to so-called theoretical post-feminism.

Added to this is the civic engagement of increasingly globally networked trans * and inter * movements against pathologization and discrimination of gender identities who do not identify as either female or male (Federal Center for Political Education 2018).

Patchwork identity

The "core elements of our identity constructions - national and ethnic identity, gender and body identity - [have] lost their quasi 'natural" source as guarantors of identity "(Keupp et al. 1999/2002: 87); at the same time, work and gainful employment have become fragile as the basis of identity formation. Therefore, identity is to be understood as a process that is neither restricted to youth nor tied to developmental tasks as with Erikson. Keupp et al. speak instead of action tasks: "Designing and living fall into one [...] Much is more like converting a ship on the high seas." (83). This is not a farewell to the idea of ​​a coherent identity, rather it falls to the individuals themselves to bring fragments of experience and partial identities into a context that makes sense for them. Coherence is no longer a premise of self-awareness, but a construction task. Keupp et al. "Identity Work"; their typicity is expressed in the metaphor of the patchwork identity. Needle and thread is the narration: self-narratives that are produced interactively and require the recognition of the interaction partners (12, 68, 207 f.).

Identity as a tinkering with meaning

Ronald Hitzler and Anne Honer's identity concept of crafting existence, meaning tinkering, assumes that, through individualization, people have the freedom to choose and shape their profession, work, membership in parties, associations, religions, partnerships and family constellations Gaining biographies and identities. At the same time, however, this means the need to make decisions and to shape things as well as the loss of the “protective roof that overcomes existence, collectively and individually binding sense roof” (Hitzler / Honer 1994: 307). That is why an (aesthetic) overall figure must be arranged from heterogeneous orientations of meaning - with limited validity for specific meaning provinces. “Handicraft existence” means a reflexive form of individualized life, which is always looking for a meaningful home until further notice. In search of lost security, people enter into new forms of social inclusion and identity formation. Aesthetic decisions play a role here, for example for special cultures, subcultures, milieus and scenes.


According to Featherstone, globalization and postmodernism induce the decentralization of the subject, whose sense of identity is shattered by the media bombardment with fragmented signs and images. Therefore, “the old essentialist self” is to be put aside and the individual to be understood as a bundle of conflicting “quasi-selves”, as a merely accidental accumulation of experiences (Featherstone 1995: 44f.).

Avoiding identity according to Zygmont Bauman

According to Bauman, the 'identity problem' of postmodernism is that identity is disappearing. “Having a solid and established identity becomes a burden. The linchpin of postmodern lifestyle is not building your own identity, but avoiding being stuck"(Bauman 1995: 11). Identity is the effort to escape the insecurities of where one belongs, where within the variety of behavioral patterns one should place oneself and whether the classifications of interaction partners are accepted. The de-institutionalization of social processes leads to an increase in these uncertainties due to the multiple options that are only taken “until further notice”. As identity has become selectable and arbitrary, it has at the same time become impossible to hold onto it (Bauman 1998: 295ff.).

Discussion of the positions: identity between stability, hybridization and fragmentation

Essentialist ideas of identity and ideas of a stable identity, the development of which is completed at a certain biographical point in time and which corresponds to a clear and seamless social and cultural positioning of the individual, are at best - if at all - part of everyday knowledge about identity, but not a modern social science inventory. In this respect, it is more a useful counter-model that is constructed to sharpen one's own understanding of identity, but not the previous identity concept of the 20th century. Erikson's phase theory is already much more differentiated, but is no longer considered appropriate due to the variety of individualized life courses and the non-existent prerequisite for continuous social development (Heinz 2007: 169; Krappmann 1997: 88 f .; see: Heiner Keupp “Subject genesis, enculturation and identity ").

Baumann and Featherstone's postmodern view of identity as the decentralization and fragmentation of the subject, which has lost all sense of consistency, contradicts a number of empirical findings. Handicraft existences, hybrid and patchwork identities by no means cease to strive for meaning and coherence; Theoretically, this is taken into account in the three relevant concepts. In the long-term study by Keupp et al. (1999/2002) - with three study waves based on guideline-based interviews with 152 young adults within a 10-year study period - the striving of the respondents for coherence is named as the most surprising result (also of parallel quantitative studies). A lack of coherence experience leads to health impairments (59). However, individuals differ in the extent to which they strive for continuity, and coherence is by no means to be equated with consistent uniformity (295).

Krappmann also argues empirically against the postmodern view of the death of the subject and the claim that social conditions no longer allow identity: Adolescents co-construct their own creative responses to what happens to them as they grow up, often unwelcome to the elderly. However, the possibilities should not be overestimated to accommodate these experiences "in a relative wholeness [...]" (Krappmann 1997: 88). One aspect of postmodern identity is “to endure as belonging even that which by its nature cannot actually be united” (88). This corresponds to the findings of Ulrike Pörnbacher's study on how young people themselves see the opportunities and risks of their identity work: "[...] attempts are made to reconcile 'parts that do not fit together'. […] What becomes recognizable in the young people's striving for coherence […] has much more the character of balancing than […] of putting together a biography from arbitrarily seized […] accidental possibilities ”(Pörnbacher 1999: 189 f.).

In this respect, one of the identity theories of the past century, symbolic interactionism, which understands identity as a balancing act, also seems to be compatible with postmodern identity problems. In symbolic interactionism, the ability of the individual to present his or her identity in a balanced manner is a structural prerequisite for interaction to take place at all; it is both socially determined and socially necessary. At the same time, however, structural limits to the arbitrariness of postmodern identities are also set: Individual peculiarities must be given or sought, and intersubjectively shared symbol systems for negotiating images of others and oneself must be mastered. This is the symbolic-interactionist argument against the identity concepts of the quasi-selves and the disappeared identities. Without normality, consensus and adaptation we cannot communicate, without uniqueness, uniqueness, authenticity, deviation from consensus, we do not need to communicate because we understand each other, because we are all the same. Without identity we get neither recognition nor belonging, without both humans cannot survive. Here, according to Keupp, the “dual character of identity becomes visible: on the one hand, it should make the unmistakably individual, but also what is socially acceptable, portrayable. In this respect, it always represents a compromise between 'obstinacy' and adaptation. ”(See: Heiner Keupp“ Subject genesis, enculturation and identity ”). Without both - in Mead "I" and "me" - neither the continued existence of society nor the social change required for it are possible, even according to Mead (1934). Identity is therefore thematized “as permanent adaptation work between inner and outer worlds” (see: Heiner Keupp “Subject genesis, enculturation and identity”).

Correspondingly, when making identity patchwork, the linking work consists in establishing the coherence of the set pieces for the person himself (coherence) as well as gaining the recognition of others for it (authenticity); The subjects' ability to act grows from coherence and authenticity - which does not mean that this always succeeds (Keupp et al. 1999/2002: 268 f.).

Identity politics

Successful identity work is tied to competencies and resources such as “skills for self-organization” and “the inner self-creation of meaning in life” as opposed to “taking over prefabricated identity packages”, “cognitive sources of resistance [...], i.e. intelligence, knowledge and education”, social support through Family and friends and the necessary relationship work as well as the material resources necessary for participation and, last but not least, civil society competencies (see: Heiner Keupp “Social-psychological dimensions of participation”). Because identity work takes place in a power-determined space in which possible identity designs are hindered, favored, suggested or even imposed by socially mediated ideologies and structural specifications (Keupp 1997: 34 f). Ideological stigma theories define otherness as inferior and damage identities, i.e. stigmatize and discriminate (Goffman 1963: 5 f.), Be it in relation to gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion / worldview, age, disability. Constructing and maintaining the identity of the stigmatized is all the more difficult, the less diversity is socially permitted, the more the classification practice is asymmetrical, i.e. the more power and discrimination there is behind the attribution of otherness (Eickelpasch / Rademacher 2004: 77 f).

Identity politics of social movements such as B. the women's movement, the American civil rights movement, the gay and lesbian movement, the trans * and inter * movements arise from the desire of marginalized groups for inclusion, for the abolition of their powerlessness and for the legitimacy of their lifestyles and their cultural products (Seidmann 1990: 230). Successes of these identity politics include the social representation and visibility of their identity designs, their specific images and symbols up to social changes such as the reform of the Personal Status Act (Federal Law Gazette 2018: 2635f.), Which is supported by the "Campaign for a third option for gender entry" as Walk through the instances from the registry office to the district court, regional court and federal court to the Federal Constitutional Court (third option 2019).

The fact that hip hop and rap, as an African-American everyday culture, has achieved media presence and popularity is a moment of empowerment:

  • It gives the 115 disadvantaged black adolescents in the study by Venise T. Berry (1990) self-esteem and supports them in getting their lives under control.
  • In his investigation of the mass riots in Los Angeles in 1992, Fiske found that the rap artists represented the black voice during the riots in the mass media. It was they who allowed white America to speak out - not just on MTV - and listened to as it sought explanations for the mass uprisings (Fiske 1994).

In order to promote empowerment and the acquisition of resources on one's own, music functions as a means of expressing cultural identity - as well as sexual identity: the bearded singer Conchita Wurst, a "hybrid" (Wurst 2015: 10), a personality variant of the artist Thomas Neuwirth, created with her victory at the 59th European Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen a worldwide stage for tolerance and against discrimination of the LGBTI movement (Wolther / Lackner 2016; Wurst 2015).

Music as a means of identity work

While Keupp et al. Focusing on identity work, which is based on discursive, linguistically mediated linking and negotiation processes (1999/2002: 12, 68f.), According to Krappmann, signs and images are used in the negotiation process in addition to words (Krappmann 1997: 89f.). Goffman (1994/1977; 1959) sees identity construction as a theater play. Studies of identity formation processes in music-related youth cultures such as hip hop and techno focus in particular on presentative, non-discursive means of expression of “performative identities” (Androutsopoulos 2003; Eckert et al. 2000; Klein / Friedrich 2003; Menrath 2001; Stauber 2004). This is where music, dance and other body language forms of expression and the associated audiovisual and music-cultural symbol systems come into play as a means of self-staging. Aesthetics and style create recognition and belonging if one appropriates the symbolic worlds concerned, the cultural capital that is necessary for self-presentation wherever social recognition and membership (social inclusion) are sought. At the same time it is about the expression of uniqueness, resource creation, aesthetic production, co-shaping of cultures.

The special role of music in the construction of gender identities is only briefly mentioned here. It is the subject of music and media sociological and psychological research (Wagner 2004; Dibben 2002), for example

  • on the gender typology of the musical taste, the choice of musical instruments and the participation in music-related youth cultures,
  • on the underrepresentation of girls and women in musical life - be it as composers, conductors, musicians in philharmonic orchestras, be it as rock musicians,
  • on the role of music in reproducing or deconstructing gender stereotypes.

In the following, some aspects of identity formation with music are highlighted that make it clear that identity constructions with music are more complex than identifying with music stars, than adapting to the musical tastes of people of the same age, than defining belonging to a youth culture or a "culture of origin".

Identification with music stars?

In a pilot study (Müller 2006) on the socio-aesthetic treatment of children with pop stars, in this case with the band Tokio Hotel, we interviewed 40 third and fourth graders with an audiovisual questionnaire. We investigated the following questions, among others: How does the target group, "pre-teenagers" or "straight teenagers" find the band Tokio Hotel, whose members Bill, Tom, Georg and Gustav are still teenagers themselves, the gender aestheticization and self-stylization of the twins Bill and Tom? Exciting, authentic (real), extraordinary, beautiful, brave, cool? Do children identify with Bill and Tom, i.e. do they want to be like them and would they like to "go with them"?

In the interview situation, the children were shown an excerpt from the video “Through the Monsun” by the Tokio Hotel group on a PC with headphones so that each child could fill out the questionnaire on their own on the PC. With screenshot photos from the video, individual questions about Bill and Tom and the video were presented as semantic differentials with five-level scales: The video is ... / This person is ...

  • boring (1) - exciting (5)
  • artificial (1) - real (5)
  • normal (1) - exceptional (5)
  • ugly (1) - beautiful (5)
  • unknown to me (1) - known to me (5).

With the same design, the three "identification items" were collected for the people Bill and Tom:

  • This person is brave. not true (1) - true (5)
  • I would like to go with this person. not true (1) - true (5)
  • I would like to be like that too. not true (1) - true (5)

And for the band Tokio Hotel inter alia the question:

  • The band members look cool. not true (1) - true (5)

The mean values ​​of these five-stage socio-aesthetic judgments show the following in a comparison between the video and the two people Bill and Tom (see diagram 1): The video is found to be more exciting and beautiful than the people Bill and Tom. However, the people are seen as more authentic (real), Bill is also considered more extraordinary than Tom and than the video. Perhaps the identification potential of the person Bill lies in the authenticity and the extraordinary? The “authenticity” of Bill is the highest value achieved (4.36). For comparison: Bill's courage is 3.86; the cool exterior of the band at 3.73.

However, the most remarkable result of this small study is that of all the items examined, the “identification items” received the lowest agreement: “This is how I would like to be” “I would like to go with this person” are for Bill 1.59 and are even lower for Tom. In other words: Finding a person exciting, brave, cool, but especially "real" and extraordinary, is one thing, identifying with them and integrating them into your own life is another.

In her investigation of fourth graders' preference for gangsta rap, Kerstin Wilke also found that the enthusiasm for this “cool” and “awesome” music, for its interpreters and for the “bad words” they use can be reflected in it Walking through the city on the cell phone, from which gangsta rap sounds, in order to enjoy it, to appear “cool”. But this enthusiasm does not go hand in hand with wanting to be like the performers and the verbal attacks, denigrations and insults that characterize gangsta rap (Wilke 2009).

Identity construction through youth culture engagement

In the post-subculture discussion it is assumed that authenticity can no longer be expressed when unconventionality / abnormality is declared normal, when the variety of symbols and images available for self-presentation becomes inflationary (e.g. Polhemus 1997 ). Uniqueness and belonging in youth cultures are therefore no longer expressed through stylistic or symbolic means, but through real action, identity work becomes work for youth culture, youth cultural engagement.

This should be shown using the example of the hardcore youth culture, where this work for youth culture is referred to as "Do-It-Yourself" (DIY) and is viewed as the center of this youth culture. To inter alia Marc Calmbach (2007) carried out written surveys at club concerts and festivals of hardcore youth culture between July and October 2004 in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and the Czech Republic to investigate the youth cultural activities corresponding to the DIY idea. 78% of the 410 hardcore members surveyed state that they are actively involved in the hardcore scene, i.e. they exercise at least one scene activity (see Table 1) (Calmbach 2007: 197).

The specializations associated with this engagement are neither to be regarded as a contribution within the hardcore culture nor as exclusively scene-relevant competencies. Rather, they are significant for the scene-goers regardless of their scene affiliation: the more they see the DIY idea at the center of their hardcore membership and the more they have the feeling of being able to realize themselves in the hardcore culture, the sooner their choice of profession, course of study and training is also related to their own “hardcore identity” (Calmbach 2007: 213-216).

Angela McRobbie (1993) also investigates the question of cultural production and resource creation through youth cultures.She argues that life within the rave culture constitutes a “way of life” and at the same time offers opportunities to acquire skills, to share them with others and to practice them. Young women find a livelihood and professional orientation within this aestheticization of everyday life, be it in graphic and fashion design, in music production or in other areas of audiovisual image production, e.g. in fan magazines. Contrary to her earlier view (McRobbie / Garber 1976) about the passive role that “invisible” girls play in youth cultures, McRobbie emphasizes female creativity and activity within rave culture.

Identity and Music in the Migration Context

Maria Wurm (2006) advocates the thesis that the preservation of musical aspects of their culture of origin by migrants is their socio-cultural location in the migration context, in their own ethnic community, just as beneficial as their integration into the host society. In her qualitative cultural anthropological study, Wurm found in interviews with eighteen Turkish students that their preference for Turkish pop music expresses their emotional connection to Turkey, which they are denied in Germany. At the same time, the respondents use Turkish pop music as a means of distinction to clarify their living situation, life in a migration context.

Music is used for self-expression of hybrid identities and their life in “border areas” (Eickelpasch / Rademacher (2004: 107 f.). We speak of hybrid music and mean that music stylistically links different cultures and / or life between two stools or on a third chair not only musically but also thematized in terms of content.Hybrid music is as diverse as hybrid identities.

If integration in the social discourse is only thought of as an adaptation to the receiving culture with extensive abandonment of the culture of origin and is expected accordingly, migration background is more a deficit, a source of stress such as problems with both languages, feeling torn and not being at home anywhere, as well as the cause of disadvantage: good education, training and jobs are not achievable. Assuming that both a hybrid socio-cultural orientation and an orientation towards the culture of origin contain integration potential, one opens one's eyes to the resources and opportunities of life as a migrant. From this point of view, hybridity is positively associated with being at home in several languages ​​and cultures, being more tolerant of other cultures and being more self-confident than non-migrants.

In an exploratory project with audiovisual questionnaires on the role of hybrid and origin-related music in integration, Migration - Identity - Music (Müller / Rhein / Borst / Rémon 2013), in the 1st study (2009) we interviewed 283 students at the Ludwigsburg University of Education, 62 of them with a migration background (MiMs) and 221 without a migration background (MoMs), in the second study (2010 ) 136 students, including 45 MiMs and 91 MoMs. All of the MiMs surveyed are considered to be structurally and culturally integrated if they have achieved university entrance qualifications and the necessary command of the German language.

In the first study, we asked the MiMs about their self-assessment, about their migration-related self-image as more stressful or more resource-centered and about their attitude towards music. 20 (33%) of them define their identity as anchored in their culture of origin, 23 (37%) locate their identity in Germany and 18 (30%) position themselves between cultures, as hybrid identities. Origin-oriented and hybrid self-positioning do not stand in the way of structural and cultural integration. They go hand in hand with an affection for music from the country of origin (see Diagram 2) and, especially among those who locate themselves in a hybrid manner, with the (albeit weak) affection for music that expresses what a migration background means. For them, the migration-related everyday experiences that are thematized in this music are more of a reference point for their identity work with music than for the other MiMs. All three groups agree with the statement: "Music is important to me."

Those who locate their identity in Germany are significantly less likely than the other two groups to listen to music from their country of origin and least like to music that expresses what a migration background means. Rather, they consider themselves the least burdened and disadvantaged of the three groups of migrants, and at the same time they ascribe less resources and opportunities to themselves than the other two groups. For them, their migration background is apparently not an important reference point for their identity.

In contrast, those with origin-oriented identity definitions are more likely to attribute burdens and disadvantages to themselves than those with hybrid identity definitions, but at the same time see more resources and opportunities for themselves than these. Overall, however, all MiMs consider themselves to be less burdened and equipped with more resources than are ascribed to them by the 221 MoMs - as an external image - and than they themselves - as an external image - attribute to other MiMs.

The second study dealt with the aesthetic and social meanings of actually sounding hybrid popular pieces of music in the context of sociocultural self-positioning, which were surveyed in a more differentiated manner than in the first study. Among other things, we differentiated the surveyed students with a migration background according to whether they feel like a person with a migration background in Germany (yes: N = 24 / no: N = 21) and whether they are recognized as MiMs based on characteristics such as accent, appearance, clothing ( often or every now and then: N = 23 / rarely or never: N = 22).

Excerpts from the following pieces of music were played, the texts of the excerpts being visualized in each case: “Greek Wine” by Udo Jürgens; "Tell Me How It About" by Brothers Keepers; "Love & Mind" by Sisters Keepers; "Because I'm a Turk" by Erci E .; “Germany” by Muhabbet & Friends; “That's all Germany” by Fler, Bushido and the prince; “My friend the German” by Cem Karaca.

The (five-stage) assessment of the pieces of music by all respondents resulted in the following judgment dimensions:

  • Proximity to music, consisting of a positive quality assessment - The text is well done.The music is well done. - and being personally attracted to the music: The text gets under my skin.The style of music attracts me.I find myself in this song.
  • Assessment of music as hybrid music: The text is about integration.In music you can hear the topic of integration musically.This music is especially liked by people who feel they belong to several cultures.
  • Assessment of the music as outsider music: The song is especially liked by people who feel excluded.…… people who don't feel at home anywhere.... ..people who do not want to integrate.

Overall, the respondents did not express any closeness to music (M = 2.71). It seems significant that the respondents rate this music more strongly as a means of expression for outsiders, the more they attribute the importance of hybrid music to the pieces of music. So far the music judgments hardly differ between MiMs and Moms.

However, there is one important difference within the MiMs. Those who experience their migration background as relevant in their social interaction with others - be it because they feel like migrants, be it because others perceive their migration background - this type of music obviously offers a higher potential for identification and more identity-related meaning than Those whose migration background is not so present: the former are more likely to get under their skin, they are more likely to find themselves in the songs, and they are more attracted to the musical style than the latter.

Follow-up studies must show whether the results found here can be reproduced, to what extent they differ according to education and training level, and to what extent any integration advantages offered by hybrid and cultural origins in further structural integration after graduation, when entering the labor market.

Self-expression in musical internet activities

Internet platforms and social networks such as YouTube expand and simplify the opportunities

  • to present oneself as a person with musical likes and dislikes,
  • to network with those who share the musical preferences, the Fantum or the scene,
  • to pursue musical self-expression: as a composer, as a musician, as a (music) video producer, as a cover singer, as a songwriter, as a choreographer and dancer, as a tutor ( Reissmann 2010).

On the basis of selected musical internet activities - in particular video remakes and instrumental tutorials - the music-cultural, movement-related, social and personal as well as job-related knowledge, skills and competencies were worked out, which are used or acquired (see: Renate Müller “Musical Internet Activities of Young People from Music Sociological Perspective"). The audiovisual examples of the public stage described YouTube illustrate, among other things, initiative, discipline, commitment, self-confidence, self-reflection, self-presentation. All video remakes and instrumental tutorials featured are adaptations of the same popular music video, "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift (2014). It is not a matter of plagiarism, but rather - sometimes self-deprecating - arguments with the music star, with the music, with the dance styles of the video and with the message "Shake it off"which is related to one's own everyday life.


Identity is not uniform, stable, permanent, immovable, seamlessly integrated into the socio-cultural environment and does not develop by itself. Identity is also not just a coincidental collection of experiences, of quasi-selves. Identity is not in the process of disappearing, but identity is fragmented, is therefore constantly in work, is tinkering and patchwork, but strives for continuity and consistency. Identity is and was reflexive, i.e. to be dealt with by individuals themselves in processes of identity work.

In the course of social development, processes of identity construction have not changed fundamentally; on the one hand, their intensity and explosiveness and, on the other hand, the diversity of the means used, including from musical cultural symbol systems. Identity drafts are offered on multicultural aesthetic media marketplaces and are appropriated in dealing with images of oneself and others, i.e. also: made to fit. It follows from this that music stars, music and musical cultures are used to form identity, it does not follow that this takes place as an ill-considered or unconditional identification of the individual. Rather, it is about individual and collective processes of empowerment and resource creation.