No. 30




Integration in Estonia: Five Patterns with Different Weaves

15 December 2014


RiTo No. 30, 2014

  • Triin Vihalemm

    Triin Vihalemm

    Professor of Communication Studies, Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu

  • Marianne Leppik

    Doctoral Candidate, Institute of Social Studies of the University of Tartu

The purpose of this article is to explore the socio-material factors reproducing different modes of involvement and shed some light on the prospects of their future development.

The empirical basis of analysis was Integration Monitoring 2011 data. Authors made secondary analysis of the five patterns of involvement and identity that formed as clusters in the cluster analysis (Lauristin 2012, 198–203). In addition to comparing the clusters, we studied several regression models and analyzed which are the factors behind belonging to one or other cluster. Theoretical inspiration comes from structuration theory of Anthony Giddens (1984/1989). Different modes of involvement express interrelations between the structural provisions, institutional rules and personal resources. The aim of the analysis was to give answers to two questions: Is the potential agency of the people in a particular pattern realised through institutions or as social self-initiative at ‘grass roots level’? Are the ethno-cultural identity and linguistic adaptation in mutually subordinating or mutually supporting positions?

The pattern of assimilative adaptation is characterised by the high political and economic and moderate ethnolinguistic identity, and weaker “grass-roots” agency. Factors predicting belonging to this cluster are good knowledge of Estonian, consumption of the Estonian-language media and contacts with Estonians and also living outside ethnic concentration areas.

Second pattern is characterized by strong pro-Estonia political involvement and rather moderate Estonian language skills. Members of this pattern have developed harmonious symbiosis of ethnic and civic loyalty. This pattern emerges more frequently among older people living in ethnic concentration areas and likely fades away with generation replacement.

The third, ethnisation pattern can be characterized by low socio-economic mobility and political agency, which are (partly) compensated for by very strong ethno-cultural identity, enforced via common language, religion and spatially close networks.

The above three patterns are rather “logical”, so to say, institutionally prescribed alternatives in the context of Estonian nation building. However, our research revealed that altering patterns have also emerged.

The “pragmatic involvement” bases more on the practical undergone experience somewhat distanced from the public communication flows. Members of this cluster have minimal ambitions and resources for participation in civil society. This pattern emerges more likely in the ethnic concentration areas and among pupils.

The pattern of “critical activism” is characterised by active participation in the informal political actions and NGOs paired with the critical attitude towards state power(s). The members of relevant group have relatively good Estonian language skills but their contacts with ethnic Estonians are mediatized: they follow intensively Estonian language mass media but do not have many acquaintances among Estonians.

Full article in Estonian