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Ethnic identity as stigma in life experiences of different generations: the case of Belarusian and Ukrainian minorities in Poland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Ilona Matysiak*
Affiliation:
The Maria Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Education, Warsaw, Poland

Abstract

The main research problem addressed in this article is the pattern of reacting to stigma based on ethnic origin expressed by the representatives of different generations of Belarusian and Ukrainian minorities in Poland living under different political and ideological conditions before and after 1989. This paper is based on a qualitative empirical study that comprised 22 in-depth biographical interviews with representatives of Belarusian and Ukrainian minorities, who varied in age. The research found that while the elderly see their minority identity in terms of danger or threat, the middle generation perceives it as an obstacle in fulfilling their life aspirations in a society fully dominated by the Polish majority. The youngest interviewees seem to be the most willing to perceive their minority characteristics positively in terms of uniqueness as well as particular competences, especially bilingualism, which may give them an advantage in the labor market.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2014 Association for the Study of Nationalities 

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Ethnic identity as stigma in life experiences of different generations: the case of Belarusian and Ukrainian minorities in Poland
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