Research results of the project From Inclusive Identities to Inclusive Societies available online
The RRPP-funded research project From Inclusive Identities to Inclusive Societies has recently come to an end. For this project, a complex research design intended to deeply explore antecedents and consequences of social identity inclusiveness in a large sample of young people from four Western Balkan countries: Serbia, Kosovo*, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previous research on the topic demonstrated that people with more inclusive and complex social identities show higher inter-group tolerance, volunteer more readily and are more likely to endorse social policies relevant to out-groups. However, in post-conflict societies such as the Western Balkans, social identity is perceived as primordial (assigned at birth), rigid and exclusive. To enhance regional and in-country cohesion, more inclusive religious and ethnic identities, as well as alternative identities (European, regional, gender, sub-cultural), need to be cultivated.
The research methodology was based on a mixed-methods approach. It comprised a quantitative survey of 840 people aged 20 to 30 from four countries, conducted in two towns in each country: one in which the majority ethnic group in the country as a whole is also the majority locally, and one in which the majority group is a local minority (Belgrade and Novi Pazar in Serbia, Prishtina and North Mitrovica in Kosovo, Skopje and Tetovo in Macedonia, Sarajevo and Banja Luka in BiH). To explore the issues of identities in a more qualitative way, eight focus groups (with 7-10 respondents) and eight case studies were conducted (one per town).
The key results showed that ethnic and religious identifications are generally stronger than alternative identifications (local, Balkans or European) in all the countries in the region. Majorities identify more strongly with the country than with ethnicity and religion, while minorities identify more strongly with ethnicity and religion. General feelings of both minority and majority members toward ethnic and religious out-groups are relatively indifferent or cold, while the social distance is moderate. Minorities, probably due to the fact that they feel more threatened, have less positive and inclusive attitudes toward ethnic and religious out-groups. The average frequency of contact between the ethnicities is relatively low; in countries where minorities are significantly outnumbered (Serbia, Kosovo) it is higher for the minority group, whilst in the countries with large minorities (Macedonia, BiH) there is no asymmetry – majorities are exposed to minorities as much as vice versa. The quality of contact, when it occurs, is relatively high – it is lower for the groups in regions with more unresolved political issues (Kosovo and Macedonia), and with groups with language barriers (Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo; Albanians and Macedonians in Macedonia). Inclusiveness of social identities is related to the smaller social distance and more positive feelings toward ethnic and religious out-groups. It appears that those who have a better quality of contact with out-groups tend to develop more inclusive identities. Finally, people with inclusive identities are generally more likely to engage in and support activism, and to believe that all people and groups should be treated equally.
Young people from both majority and minority are aware that there are discriminatory practices in their countries. This mutual understanding can be a resource for improving intergroup relations between majorities and minorities – they can work together towards a common goal of fighting discrimination in their society. In general, equality is highly valued in both majority and minority groups. New media provide opportunities for a shared virtual space. Online contact between majorities and minorities via social networks is more intense than direct contact, indicating that young people are trying to overcome physical barriers.
Further details can be found on the project’s website: www.sibyouth.org or Facebook page: sibyouth FB
Results digest in English: From Inclusive Identities to Inclusive Societies
Infographic: Multiple Social Identities and Their Potential to Foster Inclusive Societies
Infographic: Multiple Social Identities - Social Identities, Attitudes Towards Other Groups and Intergroup Contact
Paper: Social identity complexity and inclusiveness as predictors of intergroup emotions