Discursive and Biographical Construction of Political Enemies: Communists in the early Federal Republic of Germany
This article, based on empirical findings of a research project, chronicles those people who were sanctioned by political criminal law in the 50s and 60s of the last century. This example of West German Communists shows that they were not only seen to be public enemies from the political and legal point of view, but were also seen as such through discursive processes of interpretation. The central questions of this article are: 1. What effects did these processes of stigmatisation and exclusion have on the lives of the persons involved?; and 2. What were the consequences for political culture? Political culture is defined here as figuration (Norbert ELIAS). It is constitutive for a figuration, that it is an interdependent net in which different actors generate politics of definition and knowledge. At the same time, this article puts forward a methodological suggestion for discussion—an alliance of sociological biographical research with perspectives derived from discourse analysis. This would lead to an approach that could be described as political analysis based on cultural-historical perspectives and the sociology of knowledge. This approach would allow for a triangulated interpretation of political processes.
biographical research; discourse analysis; political culture; political sanctioning processes; German post-war history; triangulated methods