MINORITIES RESEARCH

György Csepeli - Antal Örkény - Mária Székelyi

The Steadiness and Transformation of National - Ethnic Identity

In the previous chapters the national - ethnic identity has been investigated in the sociological, social psychological context of majority and minority ethnic groups. It was shown how the socially constructed reality took shape in the meeting of different ethnic-national statuses, where similarities and correspondences were created and what the characteristic points at issue are. A special emphasis was put on the presentation of the consequences coming from the paradoxical ethno-ecological situations, besides the standard majority and minority situations, when someone belonging to the majority of the country lives in minority locally, or the other way around: when the person belonging to the minority lives in majority locally.

It was not investigated which factors determine that the individual continues, interrupts or restarts the multi-threaded story that results in declaring him- or herself part of an ethnic-national group. We did not have the right to be doubtful about the respondents' ethnic-national identification. The investigation of the ethnic-national background of the respondents' ascendants shows that the history of the family carries in itself tendencies full of ambivalent tensions, both of assimilation and dissimilation, inspired by national homogenization processes co-occurring with the development of a nation-state. First, we have to observe how these tendencies characterize the family background of the respondents in Transylvania and South Slovakia and how these appear in the Slovak minority of Hungary.

The family-historical dynamics of the national-ethnic identity

In the questionnaire we asked each respondent to give the data of ethnic origin of his or her four closest ascendants (the grandparents), besides declaring his or her identity. It is a homogeneous ethnic-national background when the respondent gave identical national statuses in each of the four cases and these agreed with his or her national status too. It is a mixed background though when being part of the ethnic group in minority and of that in majority is mixing in the ethnic-national categorization.

The next table gives us the chance to compare the ethnic national background of the respondents from Transylvania and South Slovakia.

The nationality of the four grandparents according to the answers of the questionee, %:

Transylvania  

South Slovakia

Homogeneous Hungarian 20 Homogeneous Hungarian 27
Mixed 10 Mixed 16
Homogeneous Romanian 70 Homogeneous Slovak 5

 

Since the sample rates reflect the ethnic composition of Transylvania and South Slovakia with adequate exactitude, it can be stated that in terms of ethnic origins the national majority of South Slovakia is more mixed than the national majority of Transylvania. On the other hand, two generations before the homogeneous ethnic structure inside the family was more frequent in the Hungarian ethnic minority of South Slovakia than in that of Transylvania.

The real question is: to what extent the subsequent generations are able to hand down the pattern of ethnic homogeneity inside the family and if they are not able, when this pattern is going to end and be transformed into heterogeneity. The following table helps to find the answer, showing the ascendants' identity in the reflection of the respondent's identity.

Ethnic characteristics of the respondent's family in two generations, %:

 

Transylvania

Hungarians Homogeneous family 84
Ethnically mixed family 16
Romanians Homogeneous family 88
Ethnically mixed family 12
 

South Slovakia

Hungarians Homogeneous family 91
Ethnically mixed family 9
Slovaks Homogeneous family 88
Ethnically mixed family 12
Hungary

(Slovaks)

Homogeneous Slovak: 43
Ethnically mixed Slovaks: 57

 

The table shows that the dominant pattern of the transmittance of the ethnic-national identity is homogeneity in both investigated regions of the Carpathian Basin, either in Transylvania or in South Slovakia, either in a minority or a majority. The tendency is especially significant in the Hungarian minority of South Slovakia. The situation is very different in Hungary, at least in the case of the families of the Slovak minority in Hungary, where a significant heterogeneity is observable.

Ethnic characteristics of the respondents' families in three generations, in Transylvania, %:

Grandparents Declared identity of the respondent and the parents' nationality
Homogeneous Hungarian Hungarian, but Romanian parent as well Homogeneous Romanian Romanian, but Hungarian parent as well
Homogeneous Hungarian 94 4   2
Mixed 6 9 25 60
Homogeneous Romanian   0 96 4

The table above shows how the homogeneous Hungarian and Romanian families and the ethnically mixed families handed down ethnic identity to the generations of the parents and to the respondents. Results show that the tendency of preserving ethnic status is especially strong, either in case of Hungarians or in case of Romanians. When heterogeneity appears in the generation of the grandparents, the declared identity has a greater importance that favours the identity-shift of the Hungarians. In case of ethnically homogeneous Hungarian grandparents the proportion of those who declared themselves Romanian was only 2 %, even when one of the parents was Romanian. The effect of homogeneous grandparents greatly influences the parents' identity. Among those whose four grandparents were all Hungarians, the proportion of those who had one parent declaring him- or herself Romanian was only 4 %. In case of ethnically homogeneous grandparents, there wasn't any respondent who declared him- or herself Hungarian. However, 4% of that group had a parent who declared him- or herself Hungarian despite his or her Romanian origins.

As a summary, it can be stated that the continuity of ethnic-national identity in Transylvania is depending on the nationally homogeneous family-history. In that case though, where the grandparents lived in an ethnically mixed marriage, a radical assimilation takes place. But, as it was mentioned before, that concerns only 10% of the respondents.

Ethnic characteristics of the respondents' families in three generations, in South Slovakia, %:

Grandparents' natioanality Declared identity of the respondent and the parents' nationality
Homogeneous Hungarian Hungarian, but Slovak parent as well Homogeneous Slovak Slovak, but Hungarian parent as well
Homogeneous Hungarian 89 6 0.3 5
Mixed 11 15 31 43
Homogeneous Slovak 0 0 99 1

The ethnically homogeneous families also hand down their identity to their descendants in South Slovakia. In case of Slovaks this transmittance is almost complete (99% of the respondents with homogeneous Slovak grandparents were brought up in homogeneous Slovak families). In case of homogeneous Hungarian grandparents, the preservation of the national identity is more feeble (89%) and not only compared to the Slovaks, but also to the Transylvanian Hungarians. Losing the Hungarian identity is almost as frequent in the generation of the parents as in the generation of the respondent (6 and 5%).

In case of the generation of ethnically mixed grandparents taking the Hungarian identity is more frequent in South Slovakia than in Transylvania (27 vs. 15%). In case of heterogeneous grandparents, losing the Hungarian identity in the generation of the parents is more frequent in Slovakia than in Transylvania (46 vs. 34%).

If the nationally homogeneous pattern turns to heterogeneous in case of the members of a minority group, the probability of assimilation toward the majority increases. This may be explained by the fact that the number of those who declare themselves Hungarian is decreasing generations by generations both in Transylvania and in South Slovakia.

In case of the Slovaks of Hungary the preservation of identity can also be investigated through comparing the generations of the grandparents and of the parents. Results show that assimilation prevails in this minority group to a greater extent. Slightly more than half of those preserve their Slovak origins who descended from homogeneous Slovak grandparents - the parents of the respondents. That is shown in the following table:

Ethnic characteristics of the respondents' families in three generations among the Slovaks of Hungary, %:

Grandparents Parents
mixed Homogeneous Slovak
Mixed 94 6
Homogeneous Slovak 43 57

Since we asked the respondents which national-ethnic group he or she chose his or her spouse, it can be presented how the pattern of national homogeneity or heterogeneity appears inside the family in the present.

We found that the rate of those living in ethnically homogeneous marriages is rather high, both in Transylvania (93%) and in South Slovakia (80%). As it was mentioned before, the high rate of homogeneous marriages in Transylvania cannot only be explained by the ethnic separation, but also by the fact that ethnic differences mean denominational differences too.

In case of the Romanians the - otherwise very low - rate of mixed marriages does not differ, either we speak about people from ethnically homogeneous families or people from mixed families.

Ethnic characteristics of marriages by the ascendants in Transylvania, %:

Marriage Hungarians: ascendants Romanians: ascendants
Homogeneous Mixed Homogeneous Mixed
Homogeneous 96 84 96 100
Mixed 4 16 4 0

In South Slovakia mixed marriages are more frequent both among the Slovaks and among the Hungarians, when mixed marriages occurred among the ascendants.

Ethnic characteristics of marriages by the ascendants in South Slovakia, %:

Marriage Hungarians: ascendants Slovaks: ascendants
Homogeneous Mixed Homogeneous Mixed
Homogeneous 89 73 81 71
Mixed 11 27 19 29

Obviously, marriage has a key-role in the survival-strategies of the Hungarian ethnic minority. The homogeneity of ethnic-national status inside the family does not favour the identity-shift of the children. On the other hand, the identity of the parent belonging to the majority becomes the grade of choosing identity for the growing child, and the probability of preserving the minority identity decreases.

The stake of preserving or losing the national-ethnic identity

Being aware of the strategies of homogenization of the nation-state, it is evident to suppose that the assimilation and integration of those belonging to the minority influences the position taken in social hierarchy to advantage. To measure this position we used the index number of social status that was created by an analysis of the main components from school qualification, and from property and income situation.

The status of Hungarians living in Transylvania is higher in average than the status of the Romanians living there. This is true, even if the respondent is coming from an ethnically heterogeneous family. That means that the preservation of the Hungarian identity does not go along with marginaliazion. The preservation of Hungarian identity seems remunerative.

However, there is a group of few people with Hungarian origins that declares themselves Romanian and has a rather high status. They are those who were integrated as Romanians into the Romanian society.

Social status by the ethnic groups in Transylvania, factor-score average and case-number:

Grandparents respondent
Hungarian Romanian
Homogeneous Hungarian .05 .56
(870) (35)
Mixed .26 .09
(57) (313)
Homogeneous Romanian X -.04
X (2894)

In South Slovakia though, there is no difference between Hungarians and Slovaks in respect of social status. Taking the Hungarian identity is not an advantage, since the status of those coming from ethnically mixed families is higher when the identity-shift has occurred and the individual has already integrated into the society as a Slovakian. The small group can also be found here, the members of which declare themselves Slovak, despite their Hungarian origins, and possess the highest status here, too.

 Social status by the ethnic groups in South Slovakia, factor-score average and case-number:

Grandparents' nationality Respondent's nationality
Hungarian Slovak
Homogeneous Hungarian -.02 .50
(742) (40)
Mixed -.22 .13
(112) (296)
Homogeneous Slovak X -.04
X (1562)

In case of the Slovaks of Hungary assimilation is followed by status-improvement, similarly to the cases of the Hungarian minorities of Transylvania and South Slovakia. While the average status-number among those coming from homogeneous Slovak families was -.10, the number among ethnically mixed families was +.12.

Whether it is Romania, Slovakia or Hungary, the assimilation of the minority national-ethnic groups clearly depends on the social profit assimilation promises. If the change of the national identity is followed by advantageous changes in the social status and by the opening of careers of upward mobility, the attraction of minority identity is diminishing and the attraction of the majority is increasing.

The role of language-usage and education in the formation of the ethnic-national identity

Linguistic tolerance deeply influences the relationship between the ethnic-national minorities and the state-forming majority. There is linguistic homogenization hidden in the program of national homogenization and that is a great challenge for the members of the group that is interested in preserving minority language-usage. They cannot respond to the challenge unless they learn the official language of the state, which is the language of the majority. We cannot talk about reciprocity, at least not in Central and Eastern Europe. The language of the minority is not taught in the schools of the majority. The following table shows the frequency the respondents attributed to the different languages they use, in various spheres of life.

The pattern of ethnic homogeneity transmitted inside the family may explain why the Hungarians speak almost only in Hungarian inside the family. However, the language of the majority appears in the media-consumption of the minorities. 48% of the Hungarian respondents read Romanian newspapers, listen to Romanian broadcasts and watch Romanian television programs. The media-consumption of the others is characterized by the exclusiveness of Hungarian language. (We should be aware of the fact that 15% of the Transylvanian Hungarians do not speak Romanian well.)

Characteristics of Language-usage in Transylvania, in percents:

  Never Rarely Often Always
H R H R H R H R
In the family 0 81 1 14 5 4 94 1
In work 8 29 16 31 29 31 47 9
During official administration 20 12 35 23 27 42 18 23
At the doctor 10 25 30 27 27 36 33 12
While shopping 7 25 28 28 32 38 34 9
While reading the newspaper 4 44 7 36 33 17 55 3
While listening to the radio 4 37 10 36 40 25 46 3
While watching television 3 20 16 36 52 41 29 4

H: Hungarian; R: Rumanian

75% of the Transylvanian Hungarians use the Rumanian language on the official forums controlled by the state. One-quarter of the Hungarians use the Hungarian language even in these situations. That may be related to the fact that the Hungarians living in majority locally may evade such situations in all their lives where they would have to use the Romanian language (they have Hungarian doctors, the shop assistants speak Hungarian in the shops, they do not work, etc.).

It is worth seeing what the table shows about the language-usage in South Slovakia.

Characteristics of Language-usage in South Slovakia, in percents:

  Never Rarely Often Always
H S H S H S H S
In the family 0 56 2 3 10 11 88  
In work 5 14 15 44 40 34 40 8
During official administration 13 6 38 27 32 51 17 16
At the doctor 12 15 24 36 36 36 28 13
While shopping 4 24 11 45 40 27 44 4
While reading the newspaper 2 22 8 49 47 27 43 2
While listening to the radio 2 20 5 53 51 25 42 1
While watching television 1 16 3 51 60 32 36 1

H: Hungarian; S: Slovakian

It characterizes South Slovakia too that the minorities speak primarily in Hungarian in the family, although slightly more than half of the respondents stated that they never speak in Slovakian at home. Contrary to this, in most of the Transylvanian Hungarian families (81%) Rumanian is not spoken. While 94% of the Hungarians in South Slovakia speaks Slovakian, the majority of them (63%) use the means of mass-communication in Hungarian.

Similarly to the situation in Transylvania, some of the Hungarians of South Slovakia (28%) are able to use Hungarian exclusively, even in official situations. The usage of Slovakian occurs only in the informal sphere and in school education among the Slovaks of Hungary. In their case the language of media-consumption and official administration is Hungarian.

On the basis of the following table we compare the patterns of language-usage in Transylvania and in South Slovakia.

The typology of language-usage among the Hungarians in Transylvania and in South Slovakia, %:

  Transylvania South Slovakia
Keeps the Hungarian language 37 54
Does not even speak the language of the majority 15 6
Linguistically integrated 48 40

It is clear from the table that the linguistic segregation originated in the lack of knowing the language of the majority mainly characterizes the Hungarians of Transylvania (15%). The conscious linguistic separation is rather typical of the Hungarians of South Slovakia (54%). In the latter case the individual speaks the language of the majority but prefers his or her mother-tongue.

We have seen earlier that the most important means of preserving, transmitting and maintaining the Hungarian (and the Romanian and the Slovakian) national identity is the language. That explains the high rates of those in both regions, who send their children to schools where the education is only in the language of the minority. This tendency appears in the nursery schools and does not end with primary school education. If we observe the period of primary and secondary education in Transylvania or in South Slovakia, we find that 10-15% of the respondents sends their children to schools where the education is in both languages, while the vast majority (90 and 85%) prefers schools where education is exclusively in Hungarian.

While the age-composition of Hungarians of Transylvania and South Slovakia does not differ significantly, that means we compare careers taken place in historically identical periods, the frequency of minority language-usage in school socialization is rather different in the two regions. Most of the Hungarians of Transylvania did their studies in Hungarian, while among the Hungarians of Slovakia a school-career in Slovakian is more frequent.

The language-usage in school among Hungarian children in Transylvania and in South Slovakia, %:

  Transylvania South Slovakia
Their children went to Romanian school as well Their children went to Hungarian school Their children went to Slovakian school as well Their children went to Hungarian school
Keeps the Hungarian language 9 91 15 85
Does not even speak the language of the majority 6 94 13 87
Linguistically integrated 12 88 20 80

The respondent's language-usage in school in Transylvania and in South Slovakia, %:

  Transylvania South Slovakia
Hungarians Romanians Hungarians Slovaks
Closed 90 99 52 96
Open, another language as well 10 1 48 4

While in Transylvania the language used in the family follows the tendencies observable during school socialization (in 94% of the investigated families parents communicate with their children only in Hungarian), the mixed language-usage between parents and children is astonishingly high (22%).

Characteristics of parents' and children's language-usage among the Hungarian ethnic groups, %:

  Transylvania South Slovakia
Linguistically closed (only Hungarian is spoken) 94 78
Open (mixed language-usage 6 22

Characteristics of the language-usage of children with their friends in the Hungarian ethnic groups, %:

  Transylvania South Slovakia
Linguistically closed 80 63
Open 20 37

A further strengthening of the trend can be seen, if we observe the habits of language-usage not only in the parent-child relation, but investigate to what extent the child contacts his contemporaries from other ethnic groups. Although it is true in both regions that the majority takes friends only from their own ethnic groups, still, the social net of the Hungarians of South Slovakia is far more open. This is shown by the fact that the children of more than one third of the respondents make friends with children from the majority.

4. The openness and closeness of ethnic-national groups

With the help of the values presented before, we create such a new variable, along which conclusions can be drawn concerning the closeness or openness of certain ethnic-national groups. The new variable was created by simple counting on the basis of the ethnic status of the ascendants, the ethnic structure of marriages, the language-usage of children and the language-usage characterizing the respondents' own school-career.

Identity-preservers are those who choose the ethnically closed alternatives along all the four variables. (They went to school where the language of education corresponded their own national language, their ascendants are homogeneous from a national perspective, their marriages are homogeneous from a national perspective, their children learn and speak in their own national language.)

Assimilants are those, who, as opposed to the former alternatives, yielded to the attraction of the other national group in each cases of the four part-variables. (They did their studies in the language of the other ethnic group as well, their ascendants show ethnically heterogeneous composition, their spouses belong to the other ethnic group, their children learn in school in the language of the spouse.) The "assimilant" classification is not meaningless in case of those belonging to the majority (here the Slovaks and the Romanians) either.

Transitional classification is attributed to those, who show marks of identity-preservers and assimilants in a mixed way.

Comparing the situation in Transylvania and the situation of South Slovakia, it is evident that the mixing of the minority and the majority is more typical of South Slovakia, than of Transylvania. The rate of assimilants is naturally higher among the Hungarians of Slovakia, than among the Slovaks. In Transylvania the rate of identity-preservers is equally high among the Hungarians and the Romanians and the rates are quite similar in the transitional category. Data obtained by the identity-indicators support our former conclusion drawn with the help of other data that shows that the separation of the two ethnic groups is more pronounced in Transylvania than in South Slovakia, where the co-existing majority and minority are more open toward each other.

The strength of ethnic identity in Transylvania and in South Slovakia, %:

  Transylvania South Slovakia
Hungarians Romanians Hungarians Slovakians
Identity-preserver 80 83 40 75
Transitional 17 14 35 18
Assimilant 3 3 25 7

  

5. The ethnic-national identity of the Slovaks of Hungary

On the basis of the ascendants' nationality, the language spoken in the family in the respondent's childhood, the declaration of the national status in the census of 1990, the respondents from the sample of the Slovaks of Hungary are put into four categories.

Identity-preserver. The respondent was put into this category if his or her ascendants were all Slovaks, Slovakian was (also) spoken in his or her childhood family and if s/he declared him- or herself Slovak.

Fading. In this case only four of the six ascendants of the respondent were Slovaks, as a child, s/he was rarely spoken to in Slovakian, and s/he did not declare him- or herself Slovak in the census.

Assimilant. The following phenomena were taken as indicators of assimilation: there were many Slovaks among the ascendants of the respondent, but in the family s/he was not spoken to in Slovakian and s/he did not declare him- or herself Slovak in the census.

Identity-seeker. Those respondents were put into this category who have two Slovak grandparents at the most, as children, were not spoken to in Slovakian at home and did not declare themselves Slovak in the census.

The data show that almost two-third of the sample has extensive Slovak origins. Among them almost a quarter of the respondents proved to be Slovak according to all of our criteria.

The intensity of the Slovak background, %:

Identity-preserver 24

Fading 43

Assimilant 17

Identity-seeker 16

The rate of men is higher among those having a more extensive, wider minority background. The rate of men and women is similar among the Slovaks seeking their identity. Although almost three-quarters of the respondents have a Slovak background they took, the transmittance of the background seems to be weakening. They are less inclined to hand down the minority identity to their children. That is shown by the fact that fostering and using the Slovakian language in the family is observable at barely 30% of the respondents. (The proportion of respondents with one child or more is 86%.)

In what language do you speak to your child? (%):

Only in Hungarian 70

In Slovakian as well 30

We expected that the transmittance of the Slovak tradition depended on the strength of the Slovak background. The following table proves that expectation.

In what language do you speak to your child? (%):

  Only in Hungarian In Slovakian as well
Identity-preserver 56 44
Fading 76 24
Assimilant 78 22
Identity-seeker 68 32

It is evident from the table that while the use of the Slovakian language at home is decreasing together with the weakening of the ethnic background, the minority language-usage at home appears again among the identity-seeker Slovaks. That means that there is a tendency of seeking a new Slovak identity among the Slovaks. The tendency is more frequent among the qualified.

Patterns of the Slovak identity

  I don't agree with it I rather don't agree with it I rather agree with it I absolutely agree with it
To be a Slovak in Hungary at the present is one's private business 6 9 27 58
We were born into the situation to be Slovaks 8 10 28 54
To be a Slovak means that we intend to preserve the Slovak traditions 4 15 34 47
To be a Slovak means that we are members of a minority 9 25 29 37
To be a Slovak means that we live far from the home-country 42 26 19 13
To be a Slovak means that we belong to the Slovak community of our closest environment 10 24 31 35
To be a Slovak means that we are striving for enforcing the Slovak national interests 34 27 21 18

The fact that the majority (60%) of the Slovaks in Hungary was telling about relatives living in Slovakia refers to the presence of the ethnic background. They keep in touch with those relatives and more than two-third of them meets them once a year. The primary purpose of being in contact is to maintain and strengthen family ties. Helping on the Slovak language learning of the children is rare (3%), there is hardly any financial support and there is a total lack of economic relationships, for example operating common enterprises.

The exchange of residents after World War II affected the families of one-third of the respondents. 10% of the respondents said that their families considered the thought of moving to Slovakia at that time. Being aware of the large numbers of relatives in Slovakia it is not surprising that relatively many people (33%) said that somebody from the wider range of relatives had moved to Slovakia in 1945-1946. There was a question that aimed to find out whether the respondent would have moved to Slovakia, if that moving had resulted in the improvement of life-conditions. Most of the people (93%) answered "no" though.

While the majority of the local Slovaks have a live contact with the relatives in Slovakia and often go to Slovakia, the attachment to the home-country is missing from the Slovaks of Hungary. They do not define themselves as part of the Slovak nation, but as part of a minority in Hungary. This pattern characterizes almost three-quarters of the respondents.

The deeper and the more real the Slovak roots are, the more intense is the identity defined by minority existence. When these roots are all lost, the identity is no longer defined by the attachment to the minority, but by the attachment to the home-country. This connection is shown in the following table.

Patterns of the Slovak identity according to sub-groups (the proportions of those agreeing with the statements), %:

  Identity-preserver Fading Assimilant Identity-seeker
To be a Slovak in Hungary at the present is one's private business 85 86 82 88
We were born into the situation to be Slovaks 91 83 77 72
To be a Slovak means that we intend to preserve the Slovak traditions 91 81 77 69
To be a Slovak means that we are members of a minority 69 63 63 69
To be a Slovak means that we live far from the home-country 31 33 31 35
To be a Slovak means that we belong to the Slovak community of our closest environment 74 66 64 60
To be a Slovak means that we are striving for enforcing the Slovak national interests 41 36 37 46

Progressing in historical times, the transmittance of the Slovak identity is less and less typical. We asked the respondents what their parents had given them from the "pack of thoughts and emotions" that makes the formulation of ethnic identity possible, and we also asked what they themselves had handed down to their children from that "pack". The results unambiguously show that the tendency of transmitting the Slovak identity is weakening.

Patterns of the identity received from the parents and handed down to the children, %:

  What did your parents say to you when you were a child? What did you say to your children?
We are Slovaks 16 3
We have Slovak origins 11 10
We are Hungarians with Slovak origins 19 19
We are partly Slovaks, partly Hungarians 15 13
We are not Slovaks anymore 8 11
It wasn't mentioned 31 44

Identity-patterns received from the parents, %:

  Complete Slovak identity Double attachment Loss of identity Silence
Identity-preserver 56 25 2 17
Transitional 23 43 6 28
Assimilant 15 33 9 43
Identity-seeker 3 26 25 46

On the other hand, it is observable that the character of the national-ethnic identity transmitted from generation to generation is depending on how strong the ethnic-national background is in the respondent. As the roots are strengthening, the transmittance of patterns suggesting complete identity is increasing and the frequency of following patterns preferring silence is decreasing.

It is among the identity-preservers where the heritage of the complete Slovak identity is the most frequent and the silence about the origins is the rarest. Fading identity is a positive condition for double (Hungarian - Slovak) attachment. As opposed to that, words making possible the formulation of the Slovak identity are missing from the memories of the assimilants and the identity-seekers.

The transmittance of the Slovak identity in the present is still depending on how strong the inherited identity is. The weak national-ethnic background projects the loss of identity, while if the minority status has any relevance for the respondent, we should count on the mediation of double identity.

 

  Identity-preserver Transitional Assimilant Identity-seeker
Your parents to you, when you were a child You to your children Your parents to you, when you were a child You to your children Your parents to you, when you were a child You to your children Your parents to you, when you were a child You to your children
We are Slovaks 40 10 11 2 9 2 1 -
We have Slovak origins 16 19 12 7 7 10 2 1
We are Hungarians with Slovak origins 16 21 26 23 15 14 12 6
We are partly Slovaks, partly Hungarians 9 21 17 13 18 10 14 4
We are not Slovaks anymore 2 2 6 13 8 12 25 21
It wasn't mentioned 17 27 28 42 43 52 46 68

It is worth paying attention to a tendency that can only be shown as an indication because of the few numbers of elements of the sample. We have already seen that the appearance of the Slovak identity is decreasing from generations to generations. However, it can be revealed that there are some whose ethnic-national identity is waking, although the Slovak identity did not play any roles in their childhood socialization and they did not pass on anything similar to their children either.

The sense of identity appears more intensely among these people than in any Slovak groups. The attachment to the Slovak nation has a determining role in this sense of identity, but the preservation of Slovak traditions and the belonging to the Slovak minority of Hungary do not seem to be constituting factors.

There are more men than women among these people, their qualification is above the average. However, the average of age is lower than in the whole sample.

The new Slovak minority identity in Hungary can only be shown in its "buds", but it is certain that its representatives are going to be qualified intellectuals, its content is going to be ideological, contrary to the traditional Slovak identity that affected the peasant-petit bourgeois sphere in a spontaneous, unreflected way, as long as it could resist the tendencies of the Hungarian national homogenization.

 6. The ethnic-national identity at the crossroads

It is the majority society that defines the parameters of success during the nation-state development working on the project of national homogenization. For the minority group assimilation could be the more advantageous way leading to higher social positions. On the other hand, the higher status in the social hierarchy supposes higher qualification, that, theoretically, permits a more accepting and permitting attitude towards multiculturalism. According to the data of the following table, both interpretations are possible. The table shows that the social status is rising from the identity-preservers to the assimilants, both among the Hungarians living in minority in Transylvania and those in South Slovakia. This proves that the integration into the majority society has advantages.

However, in South Slovakia it is also observable that the social status of the Slovaks who are open toward Hungarians is also high. The fact proves that multiculturalism also favours the better social success. There is a similar, though stronger connection in case of the Slovaks of Hungary, where the highest status-points are achieved by those integrated into the majority Hungarian society almost completely, but nowadays are trying to return to their lost roots.

The relationship between the ethnic identity-preserving and the social status, factor-score average:

  Transylvania South Slovakia The Slovaks of Hungary
Hungarians Romanians Hungarians Slovaks
Identity-preserver .09 .03 -.25 -.05 0.02
Transitional .15 .07 .00 .15 -0.17
Assimilant .36 .01 .13 .20 0.02
Identity-seeker X X X X 0.20

In Transylvania the model of building a nation-state seems to prevail, according to which the minority's possibility to succeed can be realized by accepting the criteria defined by the majority, and according to which "mixing" with the minority has no advantage for the majority. In South Slovakia though, the multicultural value-choosing based on the principles of mutuality plays an important role in social succeeding and in success. Finally, in Hungary the Slovak minority decreasing both in numbers and in identity does not show significant differences in status, whether it preserves its identity or is assimilated. Nevertheless we found the peculiar group that, as we have already seen, was completely integrated into the majority society, reached a high status there, but possess some endeavours to revive the Slovak identity.

This essay is based on the results obtained in the research "Founding confidence among the nations of the Carpathian Basin". The research was co-ordinated by the ELTE-UNESCO Department of Sociology of Minorities in Budapest and by the Márai Sándor Foundation of Bratislava (Pozsony). The Department of Sociology of the Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj (Kolozsvár) participated in the Transylvanian part of the research. The collection and analysis of the data was carried out between 1997 and 1999. The research was supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Hungary and by the PHARE.

Vissza