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Societies and Spaces in Contact

Between Convergence and Divergence


Edited By Milan Bufon, Tove H. Malloy and Colin Williams

This volume represents an inter-disciplinary discussion of some fundamental categories of convergence and divergence, focusing in particular on issues of both social integration and devolution related to ethnos as the space of identity, and demos as the space of polity. The aims of the book are to assess past developments within crucial parts of Central Europe where both conflict and coexistence potentials seem to best represent the actual “unity in diversity” managing dilemma in the continent; to provide an analysis of current approaches to minority protection, language planning, spatial and social cross-border and inter-cultural policies; and to develop an evaluation of the future trends and opportunities for co-operation and re-integration within a local and broader operational context.

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Is ‘Symbolic Ethnicity’ the Future of the Slovene Minority in Austria? (Milan Obid)


Milan Obid

Today, we are in a paradoxical situation: on the one hand, the Slovene language and the affiliation to the minority community are undergoing a symbolic up valuation in Carinthian society. For example, a growing number of majority members – or descendants of ‘Germanised,’ formerly Slovene-speaking families – are taking advantage of official bilingual educational offers as well as Carinthian Slovene educational and cultural structures. After mandatory enrolment within the territory of the minority schooling regulations in Carinthia was abandoned in the 1950s, only about 15 percent of all children were enrolled in bilingual instruction in primary school. Nowadays, in contrast, this figure has increased to about 45 percent of all children (as presented in Figure 1). These data illustrate how the evaluation of the Slovene language has changed. To put it in a nutshell: what used to carry a social and political1 ←119 | 120→stigma is now considered to be an additional competence. In one of our recent studies, only 10 percent of the respondents – Slovene speaking adolescents and young adults between 15 and 30 years of age – stated they felt discriminated by the majority population (Obid 2018b, p. 125).

At the same time, language skills among the younger generation of Carinthian Slovenes have decreased rapidly. Rather than this being a consequence of the growing presence of non- or barely- Slovene-speaking children in Slovene classes in primary schools, this seems to be a result of the current socio-economic and socio-structural development.

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