UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Beyond Ethnicity: Identity Segmentation and Economic Attitudes in Estonia and Latvia

31 October 2022, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Friendship Bridge connecting Estonia and Russia

SSEES Research Student Seminar with Stefan Tung. This will be an online event.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to








Estonia and Latvia have experienced unprecedented changes over the past three decades, from the re-independence in the 1990s, to accession to the European Union (EU) and the adoption of Euro. Over the years since the Estonia and Latvia joined the Eurozone, their economy has increased by approximately 3% annually, in contrast of around 1% in the EU as a whole. While both countries have performed well economically since the early 1990s, why the post-transition economy has not received unified support from all inhabitants? And how the post-transition economic policies impact societies in Estonia and Latvia? Stefan seeks to demonstrate that these all can be answered by establishing the relationship between social identity and the economic attitudes.

Stefan’s research examines the interaction between segmented identities and their corresponding economic attitudes in Estonia and Latvia. Starting by revisiting the ethnic and ethno-linguistic identity segmentation, in particular between the titular majorities and the Russian speaking population, Stefan is keen to explore other possible cleavages in post-Soviet Estonian and Latvian societies and their relevance to the economic attitudes. Stefan contends that the focus on ethnic classification has limited our understanding of who (and why) holds specific views in these societies that have experienced large and rapid social change over the past three decades, and expects that the exploration of alternative lines of segmentation within the relevant populations would generate policy-relevant insights.

By adopting different established theoretical frameworks, including George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton’s identity theory, Stefan aims to understand the potential drivers behind the support for market economy in Estonia and Latvia.

In this work-in-progress seminar, Stefan will start with an overview of the research and will discuss one thesis chapter, focusing on a review of existing literature on ethnic, generation and socioeconomic identities and their interaction with economic attitudes, including attitudes towards green economy and social welfare. Stefan will then outline the methodology, frameworks and future research plans of the thesis.

About the speaker

Stefan Tung is a research student at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), University College London (UCL). His doctoral research focuses on the interaction between identities and economic attitudes, and is supervised by Dr Allan Sikk and Dr Elodie Douarin. He completed an LLM at University of London, specialising in European Union law and public law. Besides his research, he is a chartered accountant, developed his profession in mobility tax.

Image credit: Wikimedia, Narva sild 2019Friendship Bridge connecting Estonia and Russia