Zunami: Creating Cohesion Narratives with Disintegrated Urban Communities

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Tatiana ZIMENKOVA, TU Dortmund University, Germany
Andrea SZUKALA, University of Muenster, Germany
Contemporary crises and socio-economic divides within EU and Germany are inevitably connected to intergroup conflict and phenomena of segregate identity building, as well as to othering processes, framed through “we-and-the-others” narratives. As research shows, the limited acceptance of diversity as well as low national identification and living together-orientation are central factors causing disintegration, social exclusion and othering in German society.

Heterogeneous urban spaces face phenomena of disintegration much more intensively than rural communities. The area of the old industrial town of Dortmund is a well-known locus of social disintegration and socio-spatial segregation in Germany. The presented paper reports on the first results of a new project (ZUNAMI), which creates, tests and applies new instruments for developing effective narratives and shared understanding of societal cohesion in a concrete heterogeneous multicultural societal setting. The ZUNAMI-project normatively approaches an inclusive society as a wishful condition, and considers the effective cohesion narratives as an essential for the societal resilience in times of crises. Societal cohesion is needed in order to develop resilient social ties, functioning connectedness to the community and orientation on the community welfare. ZUNAMI is based on an action research approach towards urban societal spaces as test zones for experimental and cooperative research embedded in the diverse urban community of Dortmund and integrating current stakeholders of the socio-political microcontexts of those spaces.

The citizens of Dortmund are called for developing cohesion narratives within group workshops creating deliberative communication spaces. The participation of citizens does not solely serve the research goals, but the deliberative practice itself serves the production of the cohesion narratives. The paper seeks to present the first results of the deliberative processes and seeks to discuss and improve the mechanisms of deliberative research creating for the cohesion narratives in urban communities.