Between Business and Patriotism: The Ethnic Economy and Slovenians Outside Slovenia
The article describes various forms and characteristics of ethnic economies, and then focuses on the Slovenian expatriate ethnic community. The author finds that individual ethnic economies have their own specifics depending on their social and educational structure and their historical and political-geographic context. There is a long list of things to do in the Slovenian economy and politics in order to promote the development and implementation of the Slovenian ethnic economy model. However, the term “Slovenian emigrant” is gaining different connotations, as nowadays it can refer to students gaining experience abroad, professionals and daring entrepreneurs.
KEY WORDS: Slovenian emigration, ethnic economy, ethnic identity
The author first describes various forms of ethnic identity and ethnic economies, and then focuses on the Slovenian ethnic community living outside of Slovenia. Each of the forms has its own specifics, depending on social and educational structure and on historical and politico-geographic context.
In order to more easily perceive the multifacetedness of the personal and ethnic identities of emigrants, the author uses his own model of a moveable scale of forms and levels of identity among members of generations of descendants of Slovenian emigrants, to which we can add a decision to cooperate in business in the form of (ethnic) business associations or directly with Slovenian partners in diaspora or in Slovenia itself. The scale includes nine categories, ranging from mere awareness of one’s ethnic origins to occasional or regular participation in organised immigrant or emigrant communities, visiting the homeland and the decision to move back to the country of one’s parents. Even people who have no connection with Slovenia and with the organized Slovenian diaspora can participate in the ethnic economy.
The author finds that there are a lot of things that should be done in Slovenia at the level of the state and public administration to promote the increased implementation of the Slovenian ethnic economy model in order to assist individuals and associations which are interested in economic cooperation with Slovenia. This should be accomplished primarily through reducing bureaucracy, clientelism and especially various phobias which prevent foreigners – including ethnic Slovenes – from entering the Slovenian market.However, certain changes are occurring. The term “Slovenian emigrant” has been gaining different connotations recently than it had during the days of the “polka and sausage” stereotype, even among the general public. A modern Slovenian emigrant is increasingly understood as a student gaining experience abroad, a professional or a daring entrepreneur.
Due to the relatively fast disappearance of established models of participation in societies and associations, as was characteristic of first-generation Slovenian emigrants, who were predominantly from lower educational and social strata, a new model of Slovenian emigration is appearing in parallel with new forms of communication (internet), which is to a great extent based precisely on economic cooperation with the motherland, or at least on this way of thinking.