Beyond the “Territorial Minorities” Discourse: Theory and Practice of Political Participation of National Minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the Case Study of Jews and Poles
Although different patterns of political participation among self-aware minority groups have spurred much debate in the academic circles, especially in stable democracies, this issue remains understudied in the newer post-communist societies and notably so the post-conflict countries of former Yugoslavia. Much of the existing research conducted in established democracies has demonstrated that increased levels of national minority political involvement are directly related to democratic development, but that these groups are shunning more traditional forms of engagement, notably political party membership in favour of direct engagement through informal participation. Nevertheless, there is very little understanding of what national minority political participation represents in post-conflict states, as much scholarly research has termed it as underground, invisible or inexistent. Despite this, there is evidence that in these states formal political participation of national minority groups is still strong, but it remains unknown to what degree this occurs, what factors influence this behavior and to what degree is this behavior present among autochthon minority groups. As active political participation of national minorities plays an important role in the democratization and stabilization of such societies, this represents an important gap in our knowledge. This thesis aims to investigate the level of conventional political participation and the trigger factors for such engagement of two significant, yet contrasting national minority groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), namely Jews and Poles. To do this, a mixed-method approach embedded in the transformative paradigm is employed, combining qualitative and quantitative findings of fieldwork. The thesis assesses eight indicators of formal political participation and reveals whether we can observe new trends when it comes to conventional engagement of these two, but also whether their influence remains limited due to their inability to formally participate in the government. It finds that both groups are political communicators, which choose to opt out of political party membership or financial support to electoral campaigns, because they feel alienated from formal politics due to constitutional limitations. However, this exit from the highest forms of political participation is not coupled with total disengagement, as both groups are actively engaged in other forms of formal political activism. This thesis concludes that new trends of political behaviour are emerging among the two observed groups, and especially so among their youth.
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Beyond the “Territorial Minorities” Discourse: Theory and Practice of Political Participation of National Minorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the Case Study of Jews and Poles. . 2016: https://archive.jpr.org.uk/object-2420