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Building National Identity in Newborn Kosovo: Challenges of Integrating National Identity with Ethnic Identity Among Kosovar Albanians and Kosovar Serbs

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Abstract

We address intergroup relations in a post-conflict context, Kosovo—where the 2008 declaration of independence led to the creation of a new national Kosovar identity. However, Kosovars still identify primarily with the ethnic identity, central to historical tensions between two main ethnic groups: the Albanian majority (over 90 % of the population) and the Serb minority (5 %). Drawing upon social identity complexity and the common ingroup identity model, we show that the new superordinate Kosovar identity does not yet function as a conflict reducing mechanism as it is conflated with ethnic identity for Albanians, while being a non-identity for Serbs. Improving intergroup relations depends on different strategies: for Albanians a more complex and inclusive identity relates to more positive intergroup outcomes, whereas for Serbs, identification with the Kosovar national identity predicts more positive perceptions of Albanians. Findings are discussed in light of current inter-ethnic challenges and future prospects.

Keywords

  • Social identity complexity
  • Common ingroup
  • Intergroup relations
  • Ethnic and national identity
  • Distinctiveness threat

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Fig. 16.1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Although in our results Serbs did show relatively high complexity, we have to take into account their low national identification. Most previous work on complexity induced participants to self-select their most important identities. However, because we were specifically interested in the complexity of national identity we included this category in the complexity measure regardless of whether people identified with it. Given Serbs’ low national identification it is possible that their relatively low overlap between ethnicity and nationality reflects national disidentification (which would also result in Serbs reporting that there is low overlap between Kosovar and Serb identity) rather than identity complexity. However, attesting the reliability of the complexity measure for Serb participants, results based on measures of their identity complexity without the national category (i.e. based on their ethnicity and the two self-selected categories only, see, for example, Verkuyten & Martinovic, 2012) were highly similar to the results presented here.

  2. 2.

    Importantly, the moderate size of this correlation in both groups allowed us to compare the independent effects of superordinate categorisation and social identity complexity on intergroup outcomes within one analysis.

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Correspondence to Edona Maloku .

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© 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

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Maloku, E., Derks, B., Van Laar, C., Ellemers, N. (2016). Building National Identity in Newborn Kosovo: Challenges of Integrating National Identity with Ethnic Identity Among Kosovar Albanians and Kosovar Serbs. In: McKeown, S., Haji, R., Ferguson, N. (eds) Understanding Peace and Conflict Through Social Identity Theory. Peace Psychology Book Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-29869-6_16

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