The thesis Identity Discourse in Contemporary Latvia deals with the problem of nation-building in a post-Soviet society. Successful construction of a nation depends on common identification shared by members of society. Two types of such collective identity ethnic and civic/territorial -- are discussed here. Due to the peculiar historical experience and demographic situation the formula of ethnic national identity has been chosen in independent Latvia. Officially the choice is explained as need to guarantee sovereignty of the state and survival of the nation and its culture. However political citizenship does not deal with cultural reproduction. In reality ethnic citizenship served immediate political interests of powerholders, it provided them almost automatic legitimation through symbolical mobilisation of people and restricted access of competing elites to the political and economical resources. On the other hand almost 600, 000 inhabitants have been excluded from political rights provided by the institute of citizenship.
The thesis gives an overview about usage and role of national identity discourse during two historical periods: under authoritarian rule in the 1930s, and in the Soviet Latvia. Insisting use of the traditional discourse in a country going towards democracy is dysfunctional and impedes development of democratic institutions. The analysis of newspapers SM and Diena shows, that in 1990-91 in Latvia existed discourse of civic national identity. Competition between political elites resulted in suppression of this discourse. In the modern society a social identity is discussed and elaborated in the mass media, however defects of the current post-communist journalism impedes introduction of the open rational debate accepting pluralism of ideas, mediated communication fails to provide mutual understanding between two language groups in Latvian society.