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Ethnicity As A Factor Of Divided Political Opinion In Latvia

Student: Margarita Pavlova

Supervisor: Andrey N. Scherbak

Faculty: Saint-Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies

Educational Programme: Political Science and World Politics (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2021

In the last two hundred years, the world has been politically characterized by nation states. Furthermore, we identify ourselves as citizens of a certain state and it seems as an inseparable part of our being. After the unexpected collapse of Soviet Union in the 1990’s all of the nations composing it had to reestablish themselves and find their national identities. As in many other Post-Soviet states the ethnic composition of the country had completely changed due to the migration policies of the Union. In the case of Latvia a large amount of the population is either ethnically Russian or Russian-speaking which creates a lot of social and political division in the country. Nationalistic movements are evident and lead to tensions between the majority population and the minority groups. The issues of government decision making in regard to minority rights and citizenship laws has attracted international attention. Furthermore, the integration of society seems to be questionable due to constant nationalistic sentiments being expressed in media and political arena. This research will examine theories of nationalism, nation-building and identity and apply these theories to historic development of Latvian state and current society. Three important factors of minority politics are explored - citizenship, media and politics. There have been a lot of important changes and policies adopted by the government to facilitate integration and protect the Latvian national identity, however research shows that the two things rather go against each other than work together. This thesis focusses on understaning the relationship between the Latvians and ethnic minority community through exploring the differences in their opinion. The research is conducted through a case study and uses statistical data from European Social Surveys. The data is then compared to see if there indeed are strong differences and gaps between the opinions of ethnic communities. Ethnicity proves to be a large factor in creating an opinion in social matters. Therefore, the research does lead to seeing that there are significant percentual gaps when making a comparison between Latvians and ethnic minority groups. Further, showing that gaps are widening in most cases, therefore attesting to continuous factors of separation and lack of progress of social integration.

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