Date of Award

5-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

International Family and Community Studies

Advisor

Melton, Gary

Committee Member

Limber , Susan

Committee Member

Raghavan , Chitra

Committee Member

Kimbrough-Melton , Robin

Abstract

This study examines emigration and political action as related phenomena in the context of the ethnic Serbian community in post-independence Kosovo. Albert O. Hirschman's (1970, 1993) work on exit and voice as two primary responses to decline in firms, organizations, and states provided the theoretical framework for the study. An attempt was made to integrate the individual context, assessed through the lens of human security, into the exit-voice framework. The study's hypotheses regarded relations between emigration as exit and political action as voice at different levels of human security. Rational-choice determinants of exit and voice, as well as loyalty to Kosovo, were also considered.
The study was carried out on a sample of 106 adults from 5 Serbian enclaves located in the territory of Kosovo to the south of the Ibar River. The data were collected in the fall of 2009 during the two-week period immediately preceding independent Kosovo's first mayoral and municipal assembly elections. Study participants completed a self-administered paper-and-pencil survey in which they responded to questions about their desire to leave Kosovo, willingness to engage in various forms of political action in Kosovo, perceptions of their human security situation, and additional beliefs and considerations conceptually related to the exercise of exit and voice options.
The analysis of data revealed that there was no relationship between exit and voice in the study's sample and emigration and political action appeared to be disparate courses of action. Likely, Kosovo Serbs regarded exit not as an improvement-oriented response to declining conditions that Hirschman envisioned, but as a further loss. The directions of associations between emigration and political action and their respective costs and benefits were consistent with the rational decision-making process. Greater potential to emigrate was associated with lower costs and greater benefits of exit and greater likelihood of political action was associated with lower costs and greater benefits of voice. Loyalty was associated with exit and voice in the direction consistent with Hirschman's model, but only for participants at the greater level of human security. The data supported the idea that at different levels of human security, the determinants of the decisions about emigration and political action may vary.
The study contributes to the literature on minority participation and emigration in ethnically divided societies, as well as to the multidisciplinary literature on microdynamics of civil conflict.

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