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Social Identification versus Regionalism in Contemporary Ukraine

  • Oksana Malanchuk (a1)

Because of the historic separation of western and eastern Ukraine under Polish and Russian spheres of influence, respectively, regional subpopulations have been seen as an important factor in Ukrainian politics. Arel and Wilson argue that the division on the all-important “Russian question” in Ukraine (relations with Russia and with the Russian-speaking minority) is increasingly regional: east and south versus the center and west. Hesli calculated the level of russification and industrialization in the various regions of Ukraine and concluded that both, together with geographic location, although interrelated, have their own bearing on variation in public opinion. Markus, however, has argued that despite economic, political and ethnic differences among Ukraine's regions, these differences pose less of a threat to reform than has sometimes been suggested. She further points out that speculation that the Donbass wants to unite with Russia “stems more from Russian claims to the area than from genuine indigenous sentiment.” Miller and colleagues, on the other hand, dispute the notion of regional differences independent of the socio-demographic characteristics of the local populations, challenging the conventional wisdom that there are regional political cultures that supersede any underlying demographic differences. They argue that national, political, economic and class identities represent the important cleavages in post-communist societies. The regional divide in Ukraine is thus not a foregone conclusion but a factor that bears closer examination.

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1. Dominique Arel and Andrew Wilson, “The Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections”, RFE-RL Research Report, Vol. 3, No. 26, 1994, pp. 617.

2. Vicki L. Hesli, “Public Support for the Devolution of Power in Ukraine: Regional Patterns”, Europe–Asia Studies, Vol. 47, 1995, pp. 91121.

3. Ustina Markus, “Regionalism in Ukraine”, Societies in Transition , 15 November 1994, pp. 1824.

4. Arthur H. Miller, Vicki L. Hesli, William Reisinger and Thomas Kloubucar, “Establishing Representation: A Comparison of Mass and Elite Political Attitudes in Ukraine”, in Sharon Wolchik and Volodymyr Zviglyanich, eds, Ukraine: The Search for a National Identity (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000).

5. See Henri Tajfel, Differentiation between Social Groups: Studies in the Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations (London: Academic Press, 1978) and Henri Tajfel, Social Identity and Intergroup Relations (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1982).

6. Arthur H. Miller, Vicki L. Hesli and William M. Reisinger, “National Identity and Support for Economic and Political Reform in Post-Soviet Societies”, paper presented at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, New York, 31 August to 4 September 1994.

7. See, for example, Arel and Wilson, “The Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections” and Roman Szporluk, “Reflections on Ukraine after 1994: The Dilemmas of Nationhood”, Harriman Review, Vol. 7, 1994, pp. 110.

8. See Tajfel, Differentiation between Social Groups ; Henri Tajfel, Human Groups and Social Categories: Studies in Social Psychology (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1981); and Henri Tajfel and J. Turner, “An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict”, in W. Austin and S. Worchel, eds, The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations (Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1979), pp. 3347.

9. Henri Tajfel, “Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations”, Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 33, 1982, pp. 139.

10. G. Oaker and R. Brown, “Intergroup Relations in a Hospital Setting: A Further Test of Social Identity Theory”, Human Relations, Vol. 39, 1986, pp. 767778.

11. See Kay Deaux, “Social Identification”, in E. T. Higgins and A. W. Kruglanski, eds, Social Psychology: Handbook of Basic Principles (New York: Guilford Press, 1996), pp. 777798, for a review of the different models and their assumptions.

12. J. C. Turner, M. A. Hogg, P. J. Oakes, S. D. Reicher and M. S. Wetherell, Rediscovering the Social Group: A Self-Categorization Theory (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987).

13. Cf. Marilyn Brewer, “Ingroup Bias in the Minimal Intergroup Situation: A Cognitive-Motivational Analysis”, Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 86, 1979, pp. 307334.

14. J. C. Turner, “Social Identification and Psychological Group Formation”, in H. Tajfel, ed. The Social Dimension: European Developments in Social Psychology, Vol. 2 (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 518538.

15. H. Giles, “Linguistic Differentiation in Ethnic Groups”, in H. Tajfel, ed. Differentiation between Social Groups: Studies in the Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations (London: Academic Press, 1978), pp. 361393.

16. Tajfel, Differentiation between Social Groups ; Tajfel and Turner, “An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict.”

17. The national survey of Ukraine is a foreign policy and economic study conducted by William Zimmerman and John Jackson of the University of Michigan, on which we piggybacked a series of social identity questions to determine the representativeness of the L'viv/Donets'k sample for western and eastern Ukraine.

18. The L'viv/Donet'sk survey was a collaborative effort with L'viv State University in Ukraine with Dr Yaroslav Hrytsak and Professor Natalia Chernysh of the Institute for Historical Studies and forms the heart of this paper. My thanks to Victor Susak and Natalia Patsiurko for their help in the data collection and data management of the 1994 study.

19. The focus groups are part of a larger study of social identities in Estonia, Ukraine and Uzhbekistan, under the general direction of Professor Michael Kennedy, Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Michigan.

20. Patricia Gurin, Arthur H. Miller and Gerald Gurin, “Stratum Identification and Consciousness”, Social Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 43, 1981, pp. 3047.

21. Miller et al., “National Identity and Support.”

22. Pearson r correlation was 0.6.

23. Deaux, “Social Identification;” P. Gurin and A. Townsend, “Properties of Gender Identity and Their Implications for Gender Consciousness”, British Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 25, 1986, pp. 139148.

24. The Pearson r correlations are 0.31, 0.53 and 0.37, respectively, for Russians, Soviets and Ukrainians.

25. See, for example, Kay Deaux, “Reconstructing Social Identity”, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 19, 1993, pp. 412.

26. Oksana Malanchuk and James Clem, “Mass–Elite Linkages and Regionalism in Ukrainian Politics”, paper presented at the American Political Science Association Meetings, Chicago, 31 August to 3 September 1995.

27. Phillip Roeder, “Soviet Federalism and Ethnic Mobilization”, World Politics , 43, 1991, pp. 196232.

28. Darrell P. Hammer, The USSR: The Politics of Oligarchy (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1986).

29. See Andrew Wilson, Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990's: A Minority Faith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) for a recent review of Ukraine's historical background as related to this divide.

30. These encompass the west (L'viv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Volyn, Rivno, Transcarpathia and Chernivtsy); the capital, Kyiv; central Ukraine (Poltava, Chernihiv, Sumy, Cherkasy, Kirovohrad, Zhytomir, Khmelnitsky and Vinnytsia); the south (Odessa, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Crimea); and the east (Donets'k, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv).

31. Also known as Uniates.

32. See James I. Clem, “The Life of the Parties: Party Activism in L'viv and Donets'k, Ukraine”, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1995, for a more detailed review of the political differences in these two cities.

33. See Miller et al., “National Identity and Support.”

34. This, because the south includes Crimea, which has a predominantly Russian population, is the most recent addition to Ukraine, has a disproportionate number of communist nomenklatura who retired there, and was transformed from an oblast into a republic of Ukraine in 1992 at the behest of Crimean leaders in their quest for increased autonomy.

35. Wilson, Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s .

36. Turner, Social Identification and Psychological Group Formation .

37. Tajfel, Human Groups and Social Categories .

38. Miller et al., “National Identity and Support.”

39. Wilson, Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s .

40. For an interesting ethnographical account of the story of Donets'k, see Lewis H. Siegelbaum and Daniel J. Walkowitz, Workers of the Donbass Speak: Survival and Identity in the New Ukraine, 1989–1992 (Albany: SUNY Press, 1995).

41. This is evident in the factor analysis (principal component, varimax rotation) of all the 14 groups included in the set of social identities under investigation here. For sake of space, the factor structure is not presented here. It can be obtained by writing to the author.

42. Roman Solchanyk, “The Politics of State Building: Centre–Periphery Relations in Post-Soviet Ukraine”, Europe–Asia Studies, Vol. 46, 1994, pp. 4768.

43. The remaining structure divulged by the factor analysis is less distinct but indicates a possible class factor (business people and the rich juxtaposed against the “workers”); a minority factor (groups that have a smaller following: reformers, Greek Catholics, Jews, Ukrainian Nationalists); and a majority factor (groups with whom mostly everyone tends to have something in common: Orthodox and Ukrainians).

44. G. M. Breakwell, Integrating Paradigms, Methodological Implications', in G. M. Breakwell and D. V. Canter, eds, Empirical Approaches to Social Representations (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 180201.

45. P. DeBoeck and S. Rosenberg, “Hierarchical Classes: Model and Data Analysis”, Psychometrika, Vol. 53, 1988, pp. 361381.

46. Deaux, “Social Identification.”

47. Brewer, “Ingroup Bias in the Minimal Ingroup Situation.”

48. Turner, “Social Identification and Psychological Group Formation.”

49. Tajfel, Differentiation between Social Groups ; Tajfel and Turner, “An Integrative Theory of Intergroup Conflict.”

50. According to Paul S. Pirie, “National Identity and Politics in Southern and Eastern Ukraine”, Europe Asia Studies, Vol. 48, 1996, pp. 10791104, this should lead to acculturation and possibly should temper their attitudes considerably.

51. Arel and Wilson, “The Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections;” Dominique Arel and Valeri Khmelko, “The Russian Factor and Territorial Polarization in Ukraine,” Harriman Review, Vol. 9, 1996, pp. 8191.

52. Miller et al., “Establishing Representation.”

53. Arel and Khmelko, “The Russian Factor and Territorial Polarization in Ukraine.”

54. Wilson, Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990s .

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