Describing Russian-speaking youngsters as Estonian citizens



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Tartu Ülikool


Original language and volume of paper: English, 132 pages The Russian-speaking community in Estonia has remained less active in politics than Estonian-speakers for more than 25 years, regardless of integration strategies aiming to tackle this problem. As youngsters are more receptive, it is important to understand how Russian-speaking students could be engaged in the civic life. To analyze this, the thesis draws upon the changing citizenship theories and the new modes of civic engagement and political participation of youngsters. The thesis aims to give a complex understanding of young Russian-speakers as citizens, compared to Estonian-speaking students. The research uses a combined method of quantitative and qualitative data analysis, which shows that Russian-speaking youngsters can be divided into three general categories: political activists, civil participants, and passive citizens, whereby ¾ of the respondents belong to the latter group. Russian-speaking students are demotivated by the lack of civically active friends and the disbelief in being able to change something in the society. The fear of being excluded by getting into conflicts also hampers the political participation of the ethnic minority. Meanwhile, school setting and international projects can be effective ways to involve and integrate Russian-speaking youngsters.