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Posted on May 5, 2011

Šaltups Scholar Researches Political Attitudes

As a Saltups fellow, Inta Mierina was working on a research paper called “Learning political helplessness: the vicious cycle of political socialization in Latvia” that is part of my doctoral thesis. Her doctoral thesis “Social Capital and Development of Political Attitudes in Post-Communist Countries” investigates the sources of political alienation in post-communist countries. On the basis of quantitative micro-level analysis — structural equation modeling and an original technique of cohort analysis — it tests the assumptions of cultural theories (the legacy of the communist regime), institutional theories (the negative effects of the poor performance and unresponsiveness of institutions), and social capital theories (the importance of trust and associational membership). The paper offers new insights into state-society relations in post-communist countries, as well as the mechanisms behind the evolution or persistence of certain political attitudes.

During her research visit, she greatly benefitted from access to the wide selection of books and journals available at the UIC library. She presented my work at the Department of Political Science, receiving valuable suggestions and encouraging comments from other doctoral students and professors. She also met and discussed my work with other Latvian students in Chicago. She was honoured to be invited to present her work at the Latvian Community Center in Chicago — a presentation that turned into a very fruitful and exciting discussion about politics in Latvia in general.

The Saltups scholarship has also advanced her academic career. She successfully submitted her PhD thesis at the University of Latvia, and was recently employed as a research assistant at the European Commission funded project “Public Goods through Private Eyes: Exploring Citizens’ Attitudes towards Public Goods and the State in Central Eastern Europe”, allowing her to continue working in the area of post-communist studies.

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I would like to express my biggest gratitude to the AABS for the Mudite I. Zilite Saltups scholarship that supported my research visit to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in the summer of 2010. With best wishes, Inta Mierina PhD candidate and researcher