Das Konzept der Mentalität im sprachlichen Handeln

Michael de Jong

Das Konzept der Mentalität im sprachlichen Handeln

Diskursanalytische Untersuchungen von Gesprächen mit deutschen Auswanderern in Brasilien und Malaysia

2010,  Mehrsprachigkeit / Multilingualism,  Band 27,  1. Auflage, 246  pages,  E-Book (PDF),  29,60 €,  ISBN 978-3-8309-7361-4

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Wie ist es möglich, dass der für die Kulturwissenschaften in vieler Hinsicht grundlegende Begriff der Mentalität trotz zahlreicher Arbeiten in unterschiedlichen Wissenschaftsdisziplinen und mit verschiedenen Theorieansätzen bisher nicht eindeutig zu fassen war?
In diesem Band wird „Mentalität“ auf der Basis einer vergleichenden kulturhistorischen Analyse mit einem diskursanalytisch-empirischen Instrumentarium Schritt für Schritt destruiert und sein ideologischer Gehalt bloßgelegt. Die Datengrundlage hierfür bilden authentische Gesprächsdaten aus Interviews mit Auslandsdeutschen in Malaysia und Brasilien. Auf diese Weise gelingt erstmals eine linguistische Konzeptanalyse von ‚Mentalität‘, im Rahmen derer die innere Architektonik des Begriffes herausgearbeitet wird. So lässt sich erklären, warum ‚Mentalität‘ als wissenschaftlich-analytisches Konzept attraktiv ist und worin das ideologische Fundament des Begriffes besteht. Als Fazit ergibt sich, dass ‚Mentalität‘ nicht als wissenschaftliches Explanans dient, sondern selbst Explanandum ist.


In this book, the concept (German: ‘Begriff’) of ‘mentality’, which plays an important role in the so called “soft sciences” and increasingly in the field of “German as a Foreign Language”, will be destroyed, step by step. ‘Mentality’ is shown to be an ideologeme construct, first on the basis of an erudite, interdisciplinarily construed analysis of the literature, then by means of a contrastive application analysis from different cultural constellations.
The work is based on the pragmatic knowledge model of Rehbein (1997), which is based in turn on the speech model of Functional Pragmatics developed by Ehlich and Rehbein in 1986, in which the relation of reality to language is contrasted with the relationship of knowledge to its verbalisation in propositional contents as well as with the reception of the propositional contents in the knowledge of the hearer and his enactive sequel (see chapter 1.2). In this respect, the structural types of knowledge, published by Ehlich and Rehbein in 1977, are highly meaningful in connection with the three-sided relationship between the knower, the subject of the knowledge and the known. Knowledge is basically different from the propositional contents.
A group of concepts (German: ‘Konzepte’) is associated with ‘mentality’ which in scientific literature stands as alternative to the matter being discussed here or serves as explanans for ‘mentality’. For this reason, ‘stereotype’, ‘habitus’, ‘culture’, ‘identity’ as well as ‘values’ and ‘norms’ are discussed in chapter 2 and placed into their proper relationship with ‘mentality’.
In the course of the work, the category of evaluation proves to be central. According to Rehbein (2001) and the accomplishments of Redder and Rehbein (1987) on the concept (German: ‘Begriff’) of the ‘apparatus’, evaluation is, in the extension of the work by Fienemann (2006), looked upon as a mental apparatus (chapter 2.4).
The scientific historical and interdisciplinary derivation of the concept (German: ‘Konzept’) of ‘mentality’ which is fundamental in many respects to the cultural sciences will be covered in chapter 3. In chapter 3.2, there are references to the French Annales School and to the concepts (German: ‘Konzepte’) of ethnic psychology (German: ‘Völkerpsychologie’) (Wundt 19113) and the sociology of knowledge (Geiger 1932, 1953; Mannheim 19786) as well as to the use of the term ‘mentality’ by Hitler. German linguists (Werlen 1998, Hermanns 1995, 1999, 2002, 2003; Wierlacher 2003; Lüsebrink 2003) again use ‘mentality’ in reference to Geiger as well as Elias (19883, 1989) despite the insight into racist connotations as explicans (chapter 3.3).
The newly created path of a transcript-based conceptual analysis (German: ‘Konzeptanalyse’) through the later chapters is based on the criterion of the respective grand constellation. This will be previewed in chapter 4 with regard to the German expatriates in Salvador/Bahia (Brazil) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Despite different social structures, both of these grand social constellations reveal respectively specific racisms that have an effect on the respective “concepts of mentality” (German: ‘Mentalitätskonzeptionen’).
In chapters 5 through 9, the reconstruction of the concept (German: ‘Begriff’) of ‘mentality’ is undertaken based on the verbalisations of the interviewees. At the same time, essential determinations in the respective experience of the interviewees become crystallised. Thus, the speaker “Mona” makes groups and group boundaries a subject for discussion in connection with the expressions “values” (German: “Werte”) and “roots” (German: “Wurzeln”) as well as their specific relations to ‘mentality’. “Gerhard”, in the course of a lecture (Hohenstein 2006), speaks of supposed approach and stabilisation relations of ‘mentality’ (chapter 6), and “Herbert” in chapter 7 refers in contradictory manner to Germanness and the reproductive power of ‘mentality’ for class and group structures in society.
In the statements by “Andrea” in chapter 8, ‘mentality’ is placed into an associative connection with “environment” (German: “Umgebung”), “class” (German: “Klasse”) and “school” (German: “Schule”). In chapter 9, on the basis of the knowledge processing by “Hilde”, ‘mentality’ is finally revealed as an ascribed composition of evaluative results about groups/classes/societies and exhibits the deeply held presupposition character in the sense of a non-negatibility.
‘Mentality’, as an everyday concept, refers to originally heterogeneous products of the evaluative apparatus and reacts back on this apparatus as a preformation, leading to a suspension of an actually possible decision-making process in the form of self-deception.
In chapter 10, the ideological component of ‘mentality’ is discussed in conclusion. With the aid of the conceptions of concepts (German: ‘Begriffskonzeptionen’) by Hegel (19526) and Vygotskij (2002), ‘mentality’ proves to be analytically insufficient for the sciences. ‘Mentality’ is not explanans but is itself explanandum, and can be instrumentalized for the rationalisation, excuse, and justification of (racial) prejudices (Rehbein 2008), which can again in interaction deploy the attribution of a ‘mentality’.