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Ethnic Minorities of Central and Eastern Europe in the Internet Space

A Computer-Assisted Content Analysis

Olga Alekseeva and Hans-Georg Heinrich

After the EU-accession of Eastern and Central European countries, the nations and ethnicities in this region face a re-definition of their cultural, social and political roles. Ethnic Minorities of Central and Eastern Europe in the Internet Space deals with the identity formation of twelve ethnic minorities in seven countries along the border of the European Union. Ethnicities in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia as well as Belarus and Ukraine are considered. The project attempts a new methodological approach to the topic of ethnic identity through a qualitative and quantitative content analysis of the internet resources attributable to ethnic minorities. It consists of two larger parts: the methodology of data collection and the results of data analysis. The data bank of the internet resources provides an overview of the empirical basis of the study.
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This volume looks into the evolving identities of Eastern European ethnic minorities, both EU- and Non-EU-members. The baseline study on which our work draws is an EU-funded FP7-SSH collaborative research project “Interplay of European, National and Regional Identities:Nations between States along the New Eastern Borders of the European Union. A Cross-National Study of Trans-Boundary Social and Ethnic Groups in Europe” (ENRI-East). The project was implemented by a scientific consortium covering different Eastern as well as Western European universities and professionals. The research was conducted from 2008 to 2011 – and the results became available to the public in 2012. The project website ( provides information about different sub-studies.

ENRI-East investigates identity formation of ethnic minorities. It addresses the issue of how ethnic minorities relevant for the new EU member states define their social roles and organize themselves politically. Apart from politics, other criteria like history or historical memory are important for distinguishing ethnic identities. Obviously, cultural and political integration within the European Union is the key for the emergence of European identity. The political borders of the EU have moved, which had an impact on ethnicities along its border: the minorities increasingly face re-definition of their political roles.

The study explores the changing identities of twelve minorities, whose national identification and political organization has been forming after the collapse of European empires, including the Communist regime, and who have been struggling for their independence in the nation-building process. This process took place against the historical background of conflicts, political and social violence and wars. The neighboring countries and nations tried to reinforce their imperial status claiming their interests upon ethnic territories and populations. There have been ethnic clashes between minorities themselves but also uneasy relations between host and mother countries. With the accession to the European Union, the political identity of ethnic minorities encounters new challenges, in the context of the new supra-national structure and new identity which the EU provides.

ENRI-East is an inter-disciplinary study applying diverse methodological approaches. Among the studies conducted was a representative value-survey (ENRI-VIS) as well as a number of qualitative studies, like interviews with experts and politicians (ENRI-EXI), biographic interviews on the basis of a semi-structured questionnaire (ENRI-BIO), and a study on ethnicity and music. This research work on “Ethnic Minorities of Central and Eastern Europe in the Internet Space” reports on the results of a content analysis of internet resources produced by ethnic minorities. This sub-study was dubbed ENRI-WEB in the framework of ENRI-East. The empirical and theoretical work for this study was performed as an integral part of the research efforts in the ENRI-East project. ENRI-WEB employed qualitative as well as ← 5 | 6 → quantitative methods. It was a pioneering venture as far as the application in the context of ethnic minorities is concerned.

The present volume comprises three major parts. In the first part the methodology of data collection and data analysis is introduced. The second part includes the results of the content analysis where the minorities under study are compared with each other. Part three presents the profiles of each minority under study. The introductory part discusses the relevance of the subject, and of the internet as data repository and some relevant methodological issues. It also defines research questions and the concept. The annex contains the data bank of internet resources on which the empirical analysis is based.

ENRI-WEB was implemented under the auspices of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, at the Center for Comparative Eurasia Studies and Surveys (CEASS), in 2010-2012. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Alexander Chvorostov, the ENRI-East project coordinator as well as to Dr. Natalia Waechter for critical and helpful comments during the work process as well as to the CEASS-team for generous assistance as well as the collegial work atmosphere provided at the Centre.

Olga Alekseeva, Hans-Georg Heinrich

Vienna, May 2013