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Language attitudes and social identity. a study on Russian-speaking immigrant communities in Israel and Germany
Language attitudes and social identity. a study on Russian-speaking immigrant communities in Israel and Germany
This study investigates two constructs of fundamental importance in sociolinguistics and social psychology i.e. language attitudes and social identity. They are investigated through a mixed-method study conducted with Russian-Speaking immigrants in Israel and Germany. Migration provides an especially fitting context for the study of attitudes towards language and of the positioning of the self in society in that it involves the crossing of different kinds of boundaries: geographic, linguistic, cultural, social, emotional etc. Specifically, post-Soviet migration to Israel and Germany poses a compelling case-study of identity negotiation processes: being highly regulated by the two states, immigration policy largely relies on the same categories of ethnonational identity forcibly attributed to the so-called nationalities in the former Soviet Union, amongst which Soviet Germans and Soviet Jews. The qualitative data corpus consists of 56 sociolinguistic interviews with young-adult immigrants conducted in Israel and in Germany. The informants are first to 1.5 generation immigrants from countries of the former Soviet Union to Israel and Germany. Data for quantitative analysis stem from an online survey carried out with 761 Russian-speaking participants from countries of the former Soviet Union based in Israel and Germany. Through the lens of language attitudes emerges a complex picture of post-Soviet migration to Israel and Germany. While Russian-speaking immigrants to Germany report a relatively broad access to German language programs and a secure command of German, their degree of identification with the core values of German society is rather low. On the other hand, Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel report issues at learning Hebrew and a low level of interactions in Hebrew, which can be put in relation with segregation issues and ideological tensions in Israeli society. At the same time, Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel can be observed to identify with Israeli culture, thus overtly or covertly reappropriating their contested Jewish identity. This study advances a conceptual model of the interactions between language, migration and identity. From the analysis emerge significant theoretical and methodological implications for future sociolinguistic research on language attitudes. While they are often regarded as correlates to language competence, this study illustrates that language attitudes allow a grounded analysis of the way in which speakers situate themselves and others in society. Moreover, this study shows that a triangulation of interdisciplinary - sociolinguistic, psychological, sociological and other - methods is necessary to attain the due degree of analytical depth when dealing with language attitudes and identity-related phenomena.
Sociolinguistics, language attitudes, post-Soviet, migration, identity
Lucchetti, Cristiana
2023
English
Universitätsbibliothek der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Lucchetti, Cristiana (2023): Language attitudes and social identity: a study on Russian-speaking immigrant communities in Israel and Germany. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty for Languages and Literatures
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Abstract

This study investigates two constructs of fundamental importance in sociolinguistics and social psychology i.e. language attitudes and social identity. They are investigated through a mixed-method study conducted with Russian-Speaking immigrants in Israel and Germany. Migration provides an especially fitting context for the study of attitudes towards language and of the positioning of the self in society in that it involves the crossing of different kinds of boundaries: geographic, linguistic, cultural, social, emotional etc. Specifically, post-Soviet migration to Israel and Germany poses a compelling case-study of identity negotiation processes: being highly regulated by the two states, immigration policy largely relies on the same categories of ethnonational identity forcibly attributed to the so-called nationalities in the former Soviet Union, amongst which Soviet Germans and Soviet Jews. The qualitative data corpus consists of 56 sociolinguistic interviews with young-adult immigrants conducted in Israel and in Germany. The informants are first to 1.5 generation immigrants from countries of the former Soviet Union to Israel and Germany. Data for quantitative analysis stem from an online survey carried out with 761 Russian-speaking participants from countries of the former Soviet Union based in Israel and Germany. Through the lens of language attitudes emerges a complex picture of post-Soviet migration to Israel and Germany. While Russian-speaking immigrants to Germany report a relatively broad access to German language programs and a secure command of German, their degree of identification with the core values of German society is rather low. On the other hand, Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel report issues at learning Hebrew and a low level of interactions in Hebrew, which can be put in relation with segregation issues and ideological tensions in Israeli society. At the same time, Russian-speaking immigrants to Israel can be observed to identify with Israeli culture, thus overtly or covertly reappropriating their contested Jewish identity. This study advances a conceptual model of the interactions between language, migration and identity. From the analysis emerge significant theoretical and methodological implications for future sociolinguistic research on language attitudes. While they are often regarded as correlates to language competence, this study illustrates that language attitudes allow a grounded analysis of the way in which speakers situate themselves and others in society. Moreover, this study shows that a triangulation of interdisciplinary - sociolinguistic, psychological, sociological and other - methods is necessary to attain the due degree of analytical depth when dealing with language attitudes and identity-related phenomena.