Nationalism and Issue Saliency: A Mixed-Method Analysis of Eastern Europe and Russia
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In three articles, my dissertation examines nationalism in the context of Eastern Europe. Overall, the argument put forward in the dissertation is that nationalism can take a variety of forms, and the mechanism behind nationalist mobilization is multilevel, with both top-down and bottom-up processes in place. The articles explore the nature of nationalism and its origins in a multi-level perspective through saliency theory. Saliency theory, applied in this dissertation is originally associated with democratic, competitive and multi-party systems. This dissertation is testing the application of saliency theory to understanding nationalism in the context of newly democratic and semi-democratic countries of Eastern Europe. The dissertation further explores the interaction between two levels of analysis by looking at how nationalist ideas might be communicated by the political elites to the masses through media sources and how individuals might be receptive to these ideas by associating them with specific issues and concerns. The dissertation is based on multi-method research, including theoretical analysis, comparative case studies, historical analysis, quantitative content analysis and Mokken scaling analysis.The first article presents a theoretical analysis of nationalism as a concept and its typology in the context of Eastern Europe. The typology of nationalism is reevaluated in the course of the dissertation. I argue in support of a typology expressed in terms of degrees/gradations of nationalism from weaker to moderate and strong forms. Historical analysis is also incorporated in order to investigate the nature and typology of nationalism in particular Eastern European states through a multiple case study. I find that the nature of nationalism is shaped by the salience of issues that individuals may face. These issues may not be the typical challenges a country faces like economic recession and immigration; instead, the issues may be more personal, with local individuals and elites exchanging cues about local conditions. When it comes to strongest forms of nationalism, they tend to originate on the level of political elites and are then transferred to local individuals through elite nationalist rhetoric and mass media.The second article puts forward a new theoretical argument that clarifies the conditions under which political elites are successful in promoting nationalism. Drawing on the existing literature that connects nationalism and the saliency theory, I advance the understanding of why despite similar political and socio-economic conditions some states are more successful in promoting nationalism than others. The article outlines how nationalism can be used by state leaders to promote legitimacy and how media serves as the main instrument in this top-down process. Media flows are compared in Russia and Ukraine to see whether nationalist ideology in both countries has been tied to salient issues in the national media space before and after the 2014 conflict. I find that despite similar ability to control media and an interest in promoting nationalism, the Russian president is advancing nationalism differently compared to the leaders of Ukraine. First of all, in Russia nationalist rhetoric is couched in both political and cultural issues, while in Ukraine nationalism is advanced in the context of solely political concerns. Secondly, the Russian president is advancing a larger volume of nationalist rhetoric in state-sponsored media, particularly at the time when nationalism is most salient to the domestic publics in both Russia and Ukraine, in the spring of 2014.The third article addresses an existing gap in the literature by presenting one of the first attempts to measure nationalism in 12 Eastern European states. Using International Social Survey Program data from 1995-2013 and Mokken scaling analysis, I create a new nationalism index measure that accounts for the intensity of nationalist sentiments based on the measures of national identification, national consciousness, patriotism, national pride, national superiority and xenophobic nationalism. I find that the patterns of weak, moderate, and strong manifestations of nationalism are time dependent and context dependent. The changes in the intensity of nationalism can be linked to socio-economic transformations in a country, new policies advanced by the government, or the rhetoric of political elites.