Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors


German and Russian

First Advisor

Kathleen Scollins


Estonia, Latvia, Ethnic Russian Minority, Language, Media Content Analysis


Historically, ethnic Russians have occupied a complicated place in Estonian and Latvian societies. As remnants of an agonizing Soviet past, ethnic Russians—who make up approximately one quarter of both countries’ current populations—have found themselves largely isolated in Estonia and Latvia’s post-Soviet era. However, as this thesis examines, that trend is changing. Though still possessing several layers of isolation, the Russian minority community is experiencing more and more integration in contemporary Estonia and Latvia, especially over the past couple years. Exploring this development from a discursive framework, I have conducted a media content analysis of 216 articles from six Latvian and Estonian news outlets over a twelve-month timeframe from February 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020. This content analysis identifies and pinpoints the main areas of tension for the two nations’ ethnic environments, which serve as the foundation for the main discussion sections of the paper. These sections critically analyze the study’s results and samples. The main identified areas of tension include: ethnic politics, geographic isolation, language use, education reform, and citizenship. This thesis finds that, on balance, ethnic Russians’ social positionality in Estonia and Latvia is bidirectional: they are integrated in certain ways and they are isolated in others. The thesis explores the complexity of the co-existence of integration and isolation within one community, while forecasting what the future holds for the Russian minority’s further social integration in post-Soviet Estonia and Latvia.