First Advisor

David Kinsella

Term of Graduation

Winter 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Affairs and Policy


Public Affairs and Policy




Serbia -- Politics and government, Vojvodina (Serbia) -- Ethnic relations, Hungarians -- Serbia -- Vojvodina, Autonomy



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 263 pages)


Current theories of interethnic relations generally posit assimilation, integration and marginalization as possible outcomes between minority and dominant groups in Eastern Europe. However, there may be cases that are not adequately described by any of these existing interethnic relations paradigms. This dissertation explores one alternative, dubbed parallelism, which can be described as institutionally-driven self-isolation and detachment leading to communities living side by side on parallel trajectories and not interacting. Using the Hungarian ethnonational minority community in Serbia's autonomous northern province of Vojvodina as a case study, the author examines the institutional factors that have led to parallelism. Primary data from 23 interviews and a variety of secondary sources reveal that two institutional factors are responsible for the current dynamic: repeated policy oscillations on the issue of Vojvodina's territorial and cultural autonomy and activism from the minority's kin-state, Hungary. Contentions over Vojvodina's autonomy act as the push factor, leading Hungarians in Vojvodina to self-isolate and cling to ingroup cultural markers, such as language. Hungary's activism towards its kin-minority across borders, especially the 2001 "Status Law" and the Prosperitati economic assistance program, act as a pull factor, enticing Hungarians in Vojvodina to look to the Republic of Hungary for political, economic, social, and ethnic belonging. These mutually-reinforcing push and pull factors have ultimately resulted in a Vojvodinian Hungarians' disassociation and detachment from the dominant group on a number of levels. In this case, parallelism may just present an optimal solution to maintain the status quo by managing minority nationalism without necessitating border revision and eroding state sovereignty. In this particular case, parallelism has led to largely non-violent relations between Serbs and Hungarians in an otherwise tumultuous region. As there are currently very few in-depth studies of parallelism, elaborating on the factors that lead to such an outcome provides a useful case study that may be referenced when examining whether parallelism may exist in other contexts.


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