Baltic Russians: Public spheres and Mediated Public Connection in the Baltic States
In April 2007, Tallinn was confronted with cohorts of drunk rampaging young people, demonstrating against the removal of the bronze statue of the Unknown Soldier; a symbol of the fights against Nazi Germany. This issue became a topic of international importance after members of Naschi 1 prohibited access to the Estonian embassy in Moscow. Whilst discussions about the decline of political engagement and activism dominated the public discourse within Western democratic countries, the events impacted upon the daily existence of those involved in the struggle, particularly the people of Tallinn. This thesis encompasses a discussion concerning the identities of emerging adults’ in relation to what they understand as the political. Employing qualitative methodologies it responds to the following research questions: Are there different perceptions of what public issues actually mean for young people with distinct ethnic backgrounds? Through what media-orientated strategies is public connection developed and possibly deepened? What does a different articulation of mediated public connection mean for the formation of cultural identity and cultural citizenship? And finally, are there differences among the three Baltic States? Contextualised within the background of the tense situation within the Baltic States, this investigation aims to explore the articulation and strategies to develop (mediated) public connections among young people with different ethnical backgrounds. Respondents will be asked to complete diaries across a three-month timescale, which will yield data from lived experiences and allow for the reconstruction of understandings and perceptions of what ‘political’ and ‘public’ mean. Therewith I aim to analyse the development of cultural citizenship and civic culture of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Alongside this, a questionnaire responding to the research questions (at a macro level) will be administered online. This is designed to identify and analyse media to uncover the development of mediated public connection within youth culture. Data will be connected using a triangulated approach. Firstly the synergy of a literature review with insights from expert interviews will inform the creation of country profiles. This initial phase seeks to understand and reconstruct not only the cultural aspects, but especially the media context within the three countries. Secondly, mediated public connections embedded within cultural citizenship and civic culture will be analysed for each country separately. Lastly, the main differences and commonalities will be compared in a cross-country analysis. Findings are expected to generate an understanding of the formation of two significant factors among young people in the Baltic States: that of cultural identity and civic culture. This study’s objective will be fulfilled by moving beyond the titular nationalities or the Russian speaking minority. Thus providing a broader and more integrated picture of mediated public connection, and offering insights into the subjective understanding of what citizenship and civic culture actually means for everyday life of young adults.