Basque identity, collective empowerment and level of psychological well-being

Social identity is a factor related to well-being and community participation. Some studies have shown the link between social identity and empowerment and that the interaction between the two makes the rates of well-being and community participation higher. However, the nature of these relationships may be conditioned by the fact that the person perceives their own group as a minority and / or a discriminated group. In fact, these relationships occur mainly in groups that are in a minority and / or discrimination situation, but not in more hegemonic or majority groups.

To advance this thesis, Jon Zabala, member of the consolidated research group Culture, Cognition and Emotion of the Faculty of Psychology at the University of the Basque Country (UPV / EHU), has carried out a cross-sectional study to analyze the relationship that social identification (or fusion of identities) and collective psychological empowerment have with the personal well-being, social well-being and community participation of 748 Basques.

As Zabala explained, “we have seen that people who feel very identified or fused with the Basques (or Basque speakers) and have a high degree of empowerment show high rates of personal and social well-being and community participation; in fact, they show higher rates than people who are not merged and have a low degree of empowerment ”. On the other hand, the results of the research suggest that “social identification balances the negative aspects derived from perceiving the group as a linguistic minority”, affirms the author. Furthermore, “we have detected that for the well-being of people who consider the condition of Euskaldun as a minority in their environment, such as in cities or places where Basque is more fragile, it is more important to feel identified with the Basques.”

According to the researcher, the advances made in the cultural aspect, and especially in the linguistic one, are clearly consistent with the perception of power of the Basque community to change society and achieve its objectives. However, “we still find certain indicators of vulnerability, such as the fragile situation of the Basque language and some specific indicators of linguistic discrimination in some situations, which can be considered as a threat to the survival of the Basque language and, therefore, to the Basque identity” says Zabala.

Jon Zabala. (Photo: UPV / EHU)

According to the theory of social identity, “when a group is a minority and perceives relevant threats that concern their identity, the identity is activated and can initiate empowerment processes,” says the researcher from the Faculty of Psychology. It is possible that, despite the good socioeconomic position in general of this social group and the achievements made in terms of language, the awareness of being a linguistic minority both in the world and in the population of the Basque Country as a whole, it contributes to the identification or degree of identity fusion with the Basque speakers and, especially, empowerment to act as especially important factors for well-being ”.

Researchers have perceived a strong link between collective empowerment and well-being: “We have been surprised that a social factor like this has such a strong relationship with personal well-being,” says Zabala. The collective psychological empowerment has been a very important factor and we must continue investigating ”. The characteristics of the investigated group are not common in comparison with the numerous investigations that have been carried out to date in this matter (especially the ethnic identity of African Americans has been studied). Therefore, the researchers affirm that this work is useful for other research that is carried out in this field worldwide.

The study, entitled “Basque Ethnic Identity and Collective Empowerment: Two Key Factors in Well-Being and Community Participation”, has been published in the academic journal Frontiers in Psychology. The research has been carried out within the framework of Jon Zabala’s doctoral thesis in the Culture, Cognition and Emotion research group of the UPV / EHU Faculty of Psychology, under the direction of professors Aitziber Pascual Jimeno and Susana Conejero López. In data collection they have had the collaboration of AEK. The study has been carried out with the help of the predoctoral program of the Department of Education of the Basque Government. (Source: UPV / EHU)

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