Sociolinguistic Studies, Vol 9, No 2-3 (2015)

Blurring of collective identities in the post-Soviet space

Martin Ehala
Issued Date: 30 Sep 2015


The paper focuses on collective identity formation in the post-Soviet space, applying the Sign Theory of Identity, which claims that collective identity is a type of Social Sign, which structure the social world and legitimise the distribution of power and resources. The paper specifies the functional and structural differences between ethnic, ethnic national, civic national, imperial and linguistic identities; outlines the conditions for identity blurring, using the notions of identity density and identity distance; characterises the main paths of identity blurring; and presents an analysis of the collective identity dynamics in the post-Soviet space, based on the case studies in this special issue.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/sols.v9i2.26734


Ashmore, R. D., Deaux, K. and McLaughlin-Volpe, T. (2004) An organizing framework for collective identity: Articulation and significance of multidimensionality. Psychological Bulletin 130: 80--114.
Bagreeva, E. and Mendzheritskiy, G. (this issue) Maintaining ties: Russian-speaking communities in Germany and Norway. Sociolinguistic Studies 9(2): xx--xx.
Bekus, N. (2014) Ethnic identity in post-Soviet Belarus: Ethnolinguistic survival as an argument in the political struggle. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 35(1): 43--58.
Brubaker, R. (2004) Ethnicity without Groups. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Buhr, R. L., Shadurski, V. and Hoffman, S. (2011) Belarus: an emerging civic nation? Nationalities Papers 39(3): 425--440.
Cartrite, B. (2003) Reclaiming Their Shadow: Ethnopolitical Mobilization in Consolidated Democracies. Boulder: University of Colorado.
David, O. and Bar-Tal D. (2009) A sociopsychological conception of collective identity: The case of national identity as an example. Personality and Social Psychology Review 13: 354--379.
Ehala, M. (2007) Etnolingvistilise arengu ökoloogia: teesid [Ecology of ethnolinguistic development: theses]. Akadeemia 3: 511--553.
Gans, H. (1979) Symbolic ethnicity: the future of ethnic groups and cultures in America. Ethnic and Racial Studies 2(1): 1--20.
Geben, K. and Ramonienė, M. (this issue) Language use and self-identification: The case of Lithuanian Poles. Sociolinguistic Studies 9(2): xx--xx.
Guibernau, M. (1996) Nationalisms: The Nation-State and Nationalism in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge: Polity.
Guibernau, M. (2004) Anthony D. Smith on nations and national identity: A critical assessment. Nations and Nationalism 1‐2: 125--141.
Joseph, J. E. (2004) Language and Identity. National, Ethnic, Religious. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
Kosmarskaya, N. (2006) “Deti Imperii” v Postsovetskoi Tsentral’noi Azii: Adaptivnye Praktiki i Mental’nye Sdvigi (Russkie v Kirgizii, 1992–2002) [“Children of the Empire” in Post-Soviet Central Asia: Mental Shifts and Practices of Adaptation (Russians in Kirghizia, 1992–2002)]. Moskva: Natalis. Retrieved on 10 January 2015 from
Kosmarskaya, N. (2014) Russians in post-Soviet Central Asia: more ‘cold’ than the others? Exploring (ethnic) identity under different socio-political settings. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 35(1): 9--26.
Landry, R., Allard, R. and Deveau, K. (2010) Schooling and Cultural Autonomy: A Canada-Wide Study in Francophone Minority Schools. Ottawa: Canadian Heritage.
Mitrofanova, A. (this issue) Transnistrian conflict in the context of post-Soviet nation-building. Sociolinguistic Studies 9(2): xx--xx.
Reicher, S. and Hopkins, N. (2001) Self and Nation. London: Sage Publications.
Smith, A. D. (1991) National Identity. London: Penguin.
Smith, A. D. (2002) When is a nation. Geopolitics 7(2): 5--32.
Smolicz, J. J., Secombe, M. J. and Hudson, D. M. (2001) Family collectivism and minority languages as core values of culture among ethnic groups in Australia. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 2: 152--172.
Turner, J. C., Hogg, M. A., Oakes, P. J., Reicher, S. D., and Wetherell, M. S. (1987) Rediscovering the Social Group: A Self-Categorization Theory. New York: Basil Blackwell.
Ventsel, A. (this issue) Sakha language and education in a social, cultural and political context. Sociolinguistic Studies 9(2): xx--xx.
Waters, M. (1990) Ethnic Options: Choosing Identities in America. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Zabrodskaja, A. (this issue) ‘What is my country for me?’ Identity construction by the Russian-speakers in the Baltic States. Sociolinguistic Studies 9(2): xx--xx.
Zabrodskaja, A. and Ehala, M. (2014) Inter-ethnic processes in post-Soviet space: Theoretical background. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 35(1): 1--8.
Zagefka, H. (2009) The concept of ethnicity in social psychological research: Definitional issues. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 3: 228--241.
Zharkynbekova, S., Aimoldina, A. and Akynova, D. (this issue) Cultural and language self-identification of ethnic minority groups in Kazakhstan. Sociolinguistic Studies 9(2): xx--xx.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy