UNESCO Social and Human Sciences
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Managing cultural, ethnic and religious diversity
on local, state and international level

in Central Europe

Completed MOST project

MOST Discussion Paper:

Managing cultural, ethnic and religious diversities on local, state and international levels in Central Europe: the case of Slovakia by Dov Ronen

This MOST project, which has been launched in co-operation with the Institute for Conflict Research in Vienna, is aimed at the development of policy strategies to monitor cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in Central European countries. It will be funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Transport and UNESCO-MOST.

In their processes of state-formation, political democratisation and economic transformation, Central European societies are confronted with the (re-)emergence of collective identities constructed along cultural, ethnic and religious lines which cut across state boundaries and create the potential for violent conflicts. Given the specific historical and structural conditions of the Central European region, it is imperative to create context-sensitive policy models and programmes for the management of cultural and social pluralism. Instead of trying to implement Western models of conflict management, this project explores existing patterns for managing diversity in the region. After in-depth interviews with ethnic and religious community leaders, political representatives and government administrators, and secondary analyses of public opinion polls, the qualitative and quantitative data will be discussed and evaluated with academic experts. Close attention will be paid to the internal social structure of ethnic groups and minorities and to the implications for their political participation at local, national and international levels. The methodological design of this project is intended to provide an accurate description of the perceptions of and reactions to social and cultural pluralism, and to open debate about diversity in civil society. In doing so it lays the foundation for peaceful, democratic decision-making which will generate various policy options supportive of cultural, ethnic and religious diversity.

The pilot study of this comparative research project focuses on Slovakia whose culturally diverse society (including traditional ethnic minorities such as the Hungarians but also Roma and new immigrants from Eastern Europe), is exemplary in the Central European region. After the evaluation of its methodological approach and its empirical results, the project will be extended to other Central European countries, especially to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia.

Scientific Coordination :

    Anton Pelinka
    Institut fur Konfliktforschung
    Tel. : (0222) 713 16 40/713 24 11/ 713 99 38
    Fax : (0222) 713 99 30

Project Co-ordinator MOST :

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