Österreicher, Bewohner Österreichs#
Oesterreicher (Austrians), inhabitants/citizens of Austria (Oesterreich). By the Middle Ages, the name "Osterleute" (and its masculine singular form, "Osterman") had become a common designation for the inhabitants of a country that had newly acquired significance as a political entity. Primarily it most probably meant those people who had a say in politics (who later formed the Landstaende (see) estates of Austria), in later times all the inhabitants irrespective of their status. From the beginning of the modern era the name basically applied to the inhabitants of the Austrian lands above and below the Enns river ("ob der Enns" and "unter der Enns", respectively). In the 19th century the term on the one hand continued to designate the inhabitants of the two crown lands above and below the Enns, and was on the other hand applied variously to all inhabitants of the Monarchy, those of the western half of the Monarchy, or its German-speaking inhabitants. The inhabitants of the western half of the Monarchy ("westliche Reichshaelfte") were given "Austrian citizenship" in 1867. After the dissolution of the multinational state in the 20th century, the name "Austrians" came to be used for all Austrian citizens.
From a scholarly point of view it is debatable, on account of the many people from other countries who have immigrated into Austria over the centuries, whether Austrians can be attributed specific inherited properties; at best, one will perhaps be able to discern special traits of the Austrians' self-image and the image others have of them, although the two may sometimes converge. Some stereotypes originally associated with Vienna in particular and its environs were later generalised, such as the description of Austrians as pleasure-loving, carefree and irresponsible Phaeacians (F. Nicolai, F. Schiller, rebutted by A. Wildgans and others), a stereotype which was often combined, in anti-Austrian propaganda, with the claim that Austrians lacked intellectual qualities and the courage of their convictions in politics. Possibly the mentality and conduct of Austrians was to some extent influenced by the fate of the Austrian state after the disintegration of the Monarchy. A somewhat more differentiated picture of the typical Austrian, especially of the members of certain parts of society, such as the bureaucracy and the educated classes, has been painted by A. Lhotsky and others: the "homo Austriacus", characterised by reserve in relations with others, a pronounced sense of duty and a longing for harmony and conciliation - but not always successful in striving for these objectives. Modern sociological studies reveal a self-image according to which Austrians see themselves (in the following order) as "easy-going, fun-loving, musical, hardworking, efficient, helpful, peace-loving, polite etc." They see their identity symbolised in Austria's scenery, mountains and culture. Foreigners primarily associate Austrians with cultural aspects (operetta, the "Golden Hall" of the Musikverein, classical music), and secondly with mountains, skiing and poor managerial skills; Austrians are often associated with anti-Semitism. Germans see Austrians as slower, less successful, more old-fashioned, less success-oriented, but at the same time happier, more congenial, more tolerant and sympathetic than Germans, while the Austrians see the Germans as less tolerant, sympahetic etc. Such cliches have little to do with reality but demonstrate the force of certain stereotypes, which may, in turn, exert an influence, albeit one that escapes clear definition, on the way individuals may act or react.
Literature#E. Zoellner, Der Oesterreichbegriff, 1988; E. Bruckmueller, Oesterreichbewusstsein im Wandel, 1994.