What Determines Adolescents' Interethnic Attitudes In a Divided Community?



School is an important socialization agent as it provides knowledge, relates social norms and values, maintains ethnic identity, and promotes desirable behaviors. Its identity formation function is particularly evident in the schooling of minorities. The present study focuses on attitudes towards school and social integration of children in Vukovar who attend separate classes with teaching either in Croatian or Serbian language. This system was established by the Erdut Agreement in 1995, and continues today. The study explored if attitudes towards interethnic integration inside and outside of the school can be predicted by sociodemographic and identity variables, attitudes towards value of education, interethnic attitudes and behaviors. A series of hierarchical regression analyses were performed on data from Croat and Serb children aged 12 to 16 years, gathered in 2001 (N=718) and 2007 (N=703). The results show that identity, interethnic attitudes and behaviors are very good predictors of attitudes in both areas of interethnic integration. The prediction was better for majority children, and somewhat better regarding school integration. Interethnic attitudes were increasingly stronger predictors of integration attitudes over time, suggesting in-group homogenization of children. Implications are discussed in the context of majority- -minority relations in multiethnic communities and the role of school in integration processes.


interethnic attitudes and behaviors; minority education; ethnic identity; minority and majority relations

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Print ISSN 1330-0288 | Online ISSN 1848-6096