The case of Opole Province in Poland
III A characterization of the Opolskie province. Cultural diversity as a distinctive feature
This chapter is devoted to a characterization of the Opolskie province as a separate region, with a particular focus on the region’s history of multiculturalism, its changes after 1944, and the present state of its ethnic diversity. The final part of the chapter will be devoted to relations between the multiculturalism of the region and the quality of governance as perceived by other researchers.
The Opolskie province is Poland’s most diversified region in terms of ethnicity (Barwiński 2006). At the same time, with respect to its ethnic constitution, Poland is one of the most homogeneous countries in Europe (cf. Alesina et al. 2003; Fearon 2003), which puts these deliberations on the dynamics of changes in ethnic diversity in a rather specific light. In our research, an example of a multicultural region is a province where 88 % of inhabitants declare their identification with the majority group. From this perspective, the phenomenon of the imagined “multiculturalism” of Silesia, including the Opolskie province, is the consequence of the contrast between the discourse on the ethnic “purity” of Poland initiated in the 1950s and the fact of minority groups’ identification with other nationalities or ethnic groups. Nevertheless, the multiculturalism of the Opole Region is an interesting research topic in the context of the ongoing debate on national and regional minorities in Poland (Barwiński 2014; 2016; 2017; Łodziński 2016; Rykała 2014; Rykała and Sobczyński 2016), the influence of ethnic diversity on social and political life (Putnam...
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