In 2002). Intergroup competition and conflict also might occur.

In this study, sense of belonging and collective
identity is examined from the perspective of group boundary theory. The
following section is giving an overview on how group boundaries are made, while
the later part is focusing on self- identification and sense of belonging
components exclusively.

1.1.1.     Drawing boundaries

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The concept of boundaries has
been associated with several research subjects; to name few, with social and
collective identity, cultural membership, racial and ethnic group positioning,
group rights and many other (Lamont& Molnar, 2002). In the academic world,
boundaries are distinguished in two dimensions- social and symbolic boundaries;
where symbolic boundaries are distinctions made by the social actors and these
boundaries separate people into two or more groups and they involve the feeling
of similarity and group membership (Lamont& Molnar, 2002).  On the other hand, social boundaries are “objectified
forms of social differences manifested in unequal access to an unequal
distribution of resources and social opportunities” (Lamont& Molnar, 2002,
p168). However, boundaries mentioned above are closely related and they can
shift from one to another; when symbolic boundaries are widely accepted and
institutionalized, they become a social boundary, for instance, through
citizenship laws (Lamont and Molnar 2002). Usually, “boundaries of collective
identity are also taken for granted until they are threatened” (Jenkins, 1994,
p200).

Symbolic and social
boundaries are multidimensional; they include multiple self- identification
dimensions, for instance, race, religion, language, culture or human capital.
According to psychologists, social identity requires that groups are
categorized as in- groups and out- groups; it is, group members or non- members
see this symbolic boundary; and these groups are competing for their social
resources. Besides, social boundaries can be and are actively negotiated and
renegotiated; also, as the power is in the hands of the majority, it can set
certain symbolic and social boundaries for some groups and different ones for
the other groups (Bail, 2008, p39).

Symbolic boundaries play
an active role in everyday life as well. Group members of the given group have
established a feeling to “take care of their own kind”; have developed a
feeling of commonness. Such a distinction automatically (consciously or
unconsciously) develop an inclusion and exclusion (Lamont& Molnar, 2002). Intergroup
competition and conflict also might occur. The competition for all the goods
(social hierarchy, economic goods, prestige, etc.) (Tajfel, 1982).

Symbolic boundaries are
not set out of blue; as mentioned above, there is a need for the feeling of
similarity and commonness in order to form a group and thus- boundaries;
language and culture are considered as the most important symbolic boundaries;
race and ethnic membership has a significant impact in some countries as well.
In fact, language and culture are found as the most important human capital for
symbolic boundaries, while race and religion as the least important (Bail,
2008). 

It is argued that people draw
their group boundaries on moral, socio- economic and cultural contents (Lamont,
1992).  In large and complex societies,
people differentiate and subdivided identities with other meaningful social
dimensions- gender, sexual orientation, occupation, religion, ethnicity,
political ideology and others; each of these divisions provide a certain
membership and shared identities to the person. Usually, these identities are
not exclusive, however, they might be closely connected, for instance,
occupation and political ideology (Brewer, Gonsalkorale& van Dommelen, 2012;
Williams, 1989).

Any social identity is both nominal (it has a name)
and virtual (it has a meaning or experience); the distinction is important
because one can change without the other doing so (Jenkins, 1994), for
instance, an ethnic name (Russian) does not change its name, but the experience
it might be having now and, in the future (or in the past), might be different.

In the ever-changing reality, group boundaries might
change; there might either boundary crossing, blurring or shifting occur. These
strategies involve different change in the between group distinction. Boundary
crossing occurs, when boundaries are not thick and people from one group can
enter the other. Boundary blurring occurs, when two group identities are
becoming more similar or they are losing their uniqueness. Boundary shifting
occurs when there are changes of the group identity, these boundaries could
become both more inclusive and exclusive (Wimmer, 2008; Wimmer, 2008b). As
Jenkins puts it, there are some scenarios when group assimilates and changes
its character, and thus the very definition of the group changes. Scenarios
when that could happen are such as- external group and internal group are
losing they uniqueness and becoming more similar to each other; the second
would be- communication is harmonious between the groups; languages and
cultures interact and therefore identities do the same.  Another situation might be, when there are political pressure or oppression, which causes boundary a blur (Jenkins, 1994).
However, if group, for instance, ethnic identity changes, it does not mean that
it is fake; the importance of some identity markers has changed but none of the is hierarchically higher than other before the importance
by individuals is given (Gil- White, 1999)

When making
boundaries and identifying oneself as a member of the given group, an
automatically distinction of “us” and “others” occurs, where individuals
identify themselves and others in particular situations; when this recognition
is influencing person’s behaviour, a social boundary is developed (Wimmer,
2008b; Wimmer, 2013). By naming boundaries, people define who they are
(Epstein, 1992).

Social boundaries
could be categorized and named by both the members of the group and the
“others”, furthermore, the understanding of the respective group identity might
be different not just among the “us” and “others”, but also among the group
members themselves (Jenkins, 1994). Individuals tend to explain and interpret
their behaviour, thoughts or demands with the cultural group identity (Wimmer,
2008b) Group identity is not independent in the world- it is created by
socializing and communication with others; sometimes a group is recognized and
defined by others and not by “us”; identity is a product of internal and
external definition (Jenkins, 1994).

While symbolic boundaries are made by social actors to
categorize people, practices, objects or space; social boundaries are
“objectified forms of social differences manifested in unequal access to and
unequal distribution of resources (material and nonmaterial) and social
opportunities” (Lamont& Molnar, 2002, p168- 169). Both boundaries are real;
it could be said that symbolic boundaries are necessary for the existence of
social boundaries. In situations, when one group is perceived as more prestigious
or powerful, a social competition occurs, and people might engage in the social
mobility (Lamont& Molnar, 2002).

 

2.1.2.     Boundaries within
nation- state

The process of group identification, creates a
majority and a minority at the same time. By creating broader majority group
boundaries, a state becomes more inclusive (Williams, 1989).

“The making of ethnic minorities often entails a
second process of emphasis shifting, amalgamation or incorporation: of smaller
minority groups into larger categories easier to administer through indirect
rule or a modern ‘minority’ policy. Majority formation and minority making are
thus two aspects of the same process” (Williams, 1989, p52). While majority (in
a democratic state) is holding the power, minority group is encouraged to cross
the boundaries into the majority by using different strategies to overcome the
exclusion and discrimination (Wimmer, 2008b)

In the nation state identity is not a statement of who
one is as an individual, but rather- a function of who we are as a
collectivity; there is a discussion of collective rights and inclusivity not
about individual rights (Chun, 1996).

In any nation state there is some kind of an ethnic
categorization; there usually is majority, which is supported greatly by the
official language, culture and history, and there are minority groups, who,
most likely, are deprived from some of these goods (Jenkins, 1994). In order to
escape such an uneven distribution of several kinds of goods, a state might de-
emphasize ethnic or national boundaries to create a global, rather than local,
community to belong to; this strategy might help those, who are otherwise
excluded or stigmatized in the nation. A global national identity could be
achieved by emphasizing civilizing commonalities (Wimmer, 2008).

Blurred boundaries within a nation state are desirable
because it could theoretically illuminate similarities and differences, and
thus- increasing a sense of commonality. A higher sense of commonality would
increase a greater equality between individuals and if ethnic boarders are
blurred, it would increase civic national identity and potentially maintain a
stable democracy in the state (Lamont& Molnar, 2002). “The focus on
ethnocentric variables sometimes led to a neglect of the structural constrains
of social situation” (Tajfel, 1982, p18).

One could argue that defining ethnic boundaries of the
state is one of the main task of the state, because they form national identity
and nation building policies; by defining ethnic boundaries, politics of
recognition, official language, history, culture and education are created
(Wimmer, 2008b). This is also tricky, because every human has rights to be
culturally recognized and expressed in the public; however, several kinds of
symbolic and social boundaries deployed in the society of the nation, might
deprive some members of the state (Bail, 2008).

In some occasions, individuals from different
backgrounds might accept the rules of assimilation and cross the boundary into
the “majority’s nationality”, because that would allow them to be more equal in
the status and wealth (Wimmer, 2002). Assimilation is a process of cultural and
ethnic boundary crossing, when one or more individuals agree on “giving up”
their cultural (ethnic) identity in order to have an equal treatment before the
law and increase life chances (Wimmer, 2008b).

In order to achieve a social cohesion for all
inhabitants of the state such activities and components should be
developed:  common values among the all
group members and a civic culture should be established, some kind of social
order and control must be implemented (for instance, national holidays,
religious freedom, etc.), social solidarity and economic equality must be
evident, social networks and social capital should be strengthened and a common
territorial belonging and a sense of common identity (Beauvais& Jenson,
2002). These commonalities could be developed by loosening boundaries and
making them more inclusive.

If there is a high ethnic group boundary hierarchy, a
new ethnic boundary needs to be advocated in order to possess a considerable
political power and legitimacy; if political networks are strongly aligned with
ethnic boundaries, it will be difficult to switch the focus on other group
boundaries, for instance, generational or gender (Wimmer, 2008b).

Narratives play an important role in the collective
identity forming; not just the ethnic but also- national identity construction
and existence is highly built on the narratives. If these narratives are in a
discourse and in a disharmony to one another, there is a possibility of the
transformation of the national identity over time (Wagner- Pacifici, 2010).

If there are no differences or inequalities between
the ethnic groups in terms of social, political, occupational or religious
groups, ethnic group membership is loosening its importance; and other
identities such as occupational membership might have a higher importance than
ethnic group membership, because in terms of ethnic identity there is no in- group-
out- group difference when it comes down to occupation or economic situation (Brewer,
Gonsalkorale& van Dommelen, 2012).

Those individuals,
who consider themselves as members of a national community, define themselves
in terms of a positive side of the symbolic set of the country; those, who are
not considered as a part of the nation, usually are seen in a negative light
(Alexander, 1992). Some would even argue, that groups need a negative “others”
(Zolberg& Woon, 1999). According to Alexander (1992) people are rational
and rule democracy rationally, thus, no emotional sense of belonging plays role
in the state ruling, therefore, no emotional attachment is a part of political
decision making.

Minority groups and
immigrants are raising the question and testing the idea of who are a part of
the society. It questions how different can “we” be, where are the boundaries
between “us” and “them”. Since it is important for a functioning democracy to
have a common goal, these boundaries between the groups could be crossing,
blurring or shifting (Zolberg& Woon, 1999).

When talking about
political activity of the ethnic group, the main concerns are mostly about the
collective belonging, disadvantage and a permission to be different, while
having the same rights and responsibility as the majority has (Jenkins, 2008).

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