Blurring of collective identities in the post-Soviet space


  • Martin Ehala University of Tartu



language policy, identity, social signs, collective identity formation, post-Soviet identity,


The paper focuses on collective identity formation in the post-Soviet space, applying the Sign Theory of Identity, which claims that collective identity is a type of Social Sign, which structure the social world and legitimise the distribution of power and resources. The paper specifies the functional and structural differences between ethnic, ethnic national, civic national, imperial and linguistic identities; outlines the conditions for identity blurring, using the notions of identity density and identity distance; characterises the main paths of identity blurring; and presents an analysis of the collective identity dynamics in the post-Soviet space, based on the case studies in this special issue.

Author Biography

Martin Ehala, University of Tartu

Martin Ehala is a Professor of Literacy Education at the Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics of the University of Tartu in Estonia. His main research interests are the development of the Estonian linguistic environment, language maintenance and ethnolinguistic vitality. Currently, he is the head of the project ‘Sustainability of Estonian in the Era of Globalisation’ (EKKAM), which aims to develop a systemic interdisciplinary approach to language ecology on the example of the development of Estonian. He has also published extensively on topics related to language and identity, and contact induced changes in Estonian.



How to Cite

Ehala, M. (2015). Blurring of collective identities in the post-Soviet space. Sociolinguistic Studies, 9(2-3), 173–190.