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Thesis Spotlights – Assimilation or Integration: The Case of Hungarian-Serbian Intermarriages

Issue 45: Pandemic (Im)Possibilities vol. 1 Tue 2 Jun 2020

Tibor Ladancsik, PhD student, Hungary

Email: ladancsik.tibor[at]
Institution: Doctoral School of Humanities, University of Debrecen, Hungary
Time: September 2016 to August 2020
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Judit Csoba
Funding: Hunyadi János Scholarship, (co)funded by The Ministry of Human Capacities and The ELTE

My thesis focuses on the ethnic intermarriages between Serbs and Hungarians in the province of Vojvodina in Serbia. Intermarriages play an important role in the lives of minorities. According to some researchers, mixed marriages are the best indicators of the integration of minorities into the society. The more intermarriages a minority has, the more integrated it is to the society. Some recent studies, however, call this claim into question. The relationship between assimilation and integration is often unclear in the literature. In the first section of my thesis, I discuss the relationship between assimilation and integration, arguing that the two concepts are not equal but are opposites, because the existence of assimilation precludes successful integration. In addition, I review previous studies about intermarriages in the area.

I also emphasize elements of national identity, since assimilation is easier to observe in this area. In the current era the institution of the family is facing many challenges. In the system of changing values and norms, the situation of multi-ethnic families is a particularly interesting topic. In their case, the issues of national identity, socialisation and mother tongue are completely different from those of nationally homogeneous families. In terms of national identity in the mixed marriages, there are basically two perspectives: the social-cohesion theory and the assimilation theory. According to the social-cohesion theory, interethnic marriages reduce the tension between the two nations, because weak and strong ties are created between the relatives and friends of the spouses. According to the assimilation theory however, the identity of the minority party is lost in the intermarriages, thereby accelerating the loss and assimilation of that minority.

In the second part of my thesis I focus on the local intermarriages between Serbs and Hungarians. I use both quantitative and qualitative methods. The number of Hungarian-Serbian marriages and the annual rate of change are analysed from the data of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia (SORS). I also made qualitative interviews with persons who live, or at some point of their lives lived, in an intermarriage situation. In the interviews I focus on the changes to, and the transmission of, national identity, the language used for everyday communication, and the religion and the culture of these families.

The purpose of my thesis is to determine the differences between assimilation and integration, and to interpret the situation of Hungarian and Serbian heterogeneous marriages, and thus to provide an insight into the status of the Hungarian minority.

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