Constitution of personal social space
The main goal of my dissertation is the following: to trace the socio-cultural transition in post-Soviet Estonia through the prism of personal social space. In my empirical studies, the personal social space is operationalised and analysed via six empirical articles using three dimensions: distanciation and accessibility (readiness for cultural contacts within and over territories, geo-cultural mobility, and interest in media news about different countries), appropriation and use of space (geo-cultural identity), and domination and control (resources that could facilitate the geo-cultural opening up process, e.g. foreign languages). My thesis draws on various theories from sociology, media and communication studies, and cultural geography. The study has a methodologically rich empirical basis – a variety of both quantitative and qualitative methodologies are included in the analytical process. The empirical research of my thesis mainly focuses on Estonians (ethnic and non-ethnic), but Swedes and other European nationalities are also involved in comparisons. The results of my thesis enable to argue, that the accessibility of space of Estonian inhabitants has been increasing during the transition process. The “friction of distance” is less negotiable in inter-cultural communication within a national territory. Distanciation is a feature of the nation-state model and therefore occurs according to “modern” patterns. The appropriation of space in a transition society is characterised by territorial forms of solidarities in the case of minority ethnic groups, or are based on the geographical-historical links for the ethnic majority. Estonian society is differentiated in the terms of cultural openness due to a variety of cultural, economic and social resources. This diversity could be overcome by institutional means, which entail long-term investments, e.g. in foreign language teaching and education policies.