Cultural Sustainability in a Transition Society: Relations between Foreign Languages and Geo-Cultural Self-Position in Estonia

By Anu Masso and Tõnu Tender.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The present paper concentrates on associations between geo-cultural mobility (travelling, contacts with different countries) and linguistic capital (foreign languages skills and usage) in the transition country Estonia. This enables analyzing the cultural consequences of sudden globalisation. The main theoretical starting point is the theory of modernity and cultural dimension of globalisation by Arjun Appadurai. The empirical part of the paper uses survey data conducted in Estonia in 2005. With Bayesian modelling method the geo-cultural mobility and linguistic capital, as well as relationships with social capital, Internet usage, and interest in events of different countries are analysed. The results have shown that mobility should not necessarily lead to the weakening of social contacts. The close relationships could rather support the cultural opening and successive widening of networks. The linguistic capital had its importance as an instrumental tool foremost in the beginning of the transition period, i.e. spread of foreign languages supported the cultural opening and increase in mobility. But in the course of time the symbolic meaning of foreign languages has changed more important, i.e. linguistic capital function for certain social groups as a supportive “bridge” between past Soviet and today’s world.

Keywords: Geo-Cultural Self-Position, Mobility, Linguistic Capital, Transition Societies

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.163-172. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 620.246KB).

Anu Masso

PhD Student, Department of Journalism and Communication, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

During my master studies in sociology I concentrated on identity formations among Estonian Russian-speaking population. Now I’m a third year PhD-student in media and communication. In my present PhD-thesis I’m interested in developments of geo-cultural space (e.g. distances with different cultures, mobility and its relations with social and linguistic capital) in Estonia, one of the post-communist countries. My second interest is methodology of social sciences, that I can implement in writing my PhD thesis as well as in giving some lectures and seminars (quantitative data analysis, qualitative interview, qualitative data analysis techniques and software) at the Department of Journalism and Communication, University of Tartu.

Tõnu Tender

PhD student, Department of Journalism and Communication, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

I composed my master’s thesis about slang, its changing definitions, usage, and function, its history and its origins. I am a third year PhD-student in media and communication at the Department of Journalism and Communication, University of Tartu. I am composing my PhD-thesis about linguistic capital in Estonia. I am working as adviser of Language Policy in the Language Policy Department, Ministry of Education and Research.


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