Judging the book by its cover? Latvian integration beyond the headlines
Ekmanis, Indra Dineh
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Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Latvia has struggled to appropriately integrate its sizable Russian-speaking minority population, which makes up more than a quarter of the total Latvian population. Indeed, the country is often identified internationally -- and domestically -- by its integration failures. The rhetoric surrounding minority integration is quite damning, but is it accurate? This thesis focuses on Latvia as a case study of integration in two issue areas that have been repeatedly criticized in public discourse, (1) citizenship legislation and (2) education reforms. It argues that the Latvian government has successfully reformed citizenship and education systems to facilitate integration, and that individuals are rationally choosing to integrate. In these two issue areas, Latvian integration is moving in a positive direction, despite the disseminated discourse arguing the contrary.