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Sprachkonfliktforschung in Sprachkontaktgebieten: die öffentliche Meinung zu Aspekten der Position der deutschsprachigen Belgier im belgischen föderalen System.

Monday, 28 February, 2011 - 14:45
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: Arts and Philosophy
Anneleen Vanden Boer
phd defence

Since the foundation of the Belgian federal State in 1993 its state model is changing. This process is linked with state reforms and every now and then a political crisis. Since the governmental crisis of 2007 the speculations about the future of federal Belgium become louder. Opinion polls among Dutch- and French-speaking Belgians concerning this issue are en vogue. The German-speaking Belgians, representing only 0.7% of the total Belgian population are rarely taken into account – neither as respondents, nor as a subject of the polls. 

I close this research gap with a survey on the position of the German-speaking Belgians in the Belgian federal system, conducted both among German- and non-German-speaking Belgians. This survey is the widest in its kind so far. I measure the tolerance of the non-German-speaking Belgians and the satisfaction of the German-speaking Belgians relating to the position of the German-speaking Belgians in the Belgian federal state and point to some possible potential sources of conflict. 

The political visibility of the German-speaking Belgians and the application of the special language rights for German-speaking Belgians seem to be the most important hurdles. Furthermore I show that the opinion (concerning this topic) of both German- and non-German-speaking Belgians of the younger and higher educated generations and of Belgians with a weaker ‘Belgian-unitarian’ identity significantly radicalises. German- and non-German-speaking Belgians with these profile characteristics have a lower satisfaction respectively tolerance level concerning the position of the German-speaking Belgians in the Belgian federal system. It is likely that especially this kind of profile will step into the foreground. Consequently one should consider an increased probability of conflict between German- and non-German-speaking Belgians concerning certain aspects of the position of German-speaking Belgians in the Belgian federal system.