Lessons Learned from the Former Yugoslavia: The Case of Croatia

  • Dinka Corkalo BiruskiEmail author
Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)

Yugoslavia/Croatia Chapter Summary

Corkalo Biruski presents a socio-psychological model to explain the destruction of interethnic harmony in Croatia through analysis of the community of Vukovar. Research surveys in this city are analyzed to create a picture of prewar and postwar interethnic relations. Theories are applied to the processes of change and offered as a means to reestablish a cohesive society.

A brief historical context delineates the early years during which Yugoslavia was established under a proclamation of unity and brotherhood and then divided in fix independentstates. Decentralization of government within the republic is presented as the catalyst which eventually engendered independence for Croatia following a 4-year war.

Vukovar is presented as a flourishing multiethnic community prior to the war. Early signs of interethnic schism are recognized following the war but the most significant are noted to have occurred after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Social Identity Theory (SIT) is applied to this sudden shift in an effort to consider cause. Biruski suggests several factors that led to the eventual loss of community through fear and silence.

The author presents an argument for using the term “social reconstruction” versus “reconciliation” when describing a return to functional society. Recognition of the initial unpleasantness of this process and the length of time required are iterated. Description of a divided society provides evidence of a major obstacle on the path to improved interethnic attitudes. Corkalo Biruski offers a model to bring ethnic groups back together through healing of trauma at the individual level, rebuilding community and enacting norms of tolerance at the societal level.

Cheryl Jorgensen


Political Elite Social Identity Theory Communist Regime Yugoslav Republic Ethnic Tension 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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