Language Policy in Education in Contemporary Ukraine: A Continuous Discussion of Contested National Identity.
Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, language policy has been dramatically transformed from the clear dominance of Russian as “the language of intercultural communication” in all ex-Soviet republics to the promotion of the socalled titular languages in all spheres of public life. In post-Soviet Ukraine, the transition to Ukrainian as the only state language has become particularly painful due to the spark of outrage of a significant proportion of Russian speakers and inconsistent measures in the sphere of language policy and planning. The system of education, which is the focus of the current study, has also been transformed several times, depending on the preferences of the political elites that aggravated the already complicated situation and fuelled the public and academic debates. The recent Ukrainian crisis, the military and media confrontation with Russia pose a serious challenge to Ukraine’s national identity and continue to be an open field of public contestation. This article seeks to understand what role language plays in defining national identity through the analysis of the public debates on the educational reforms in the most crucial periods of 2011-2012, 2013-2015 and 2017. The study is based on the theory of social problems construction (Kitsuse and Spector, 2009) and the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse elaborated by R. Keller (2013) which provide an explanation why language policy has become such an overtly politicized phenomenon in Ukrainian discourse.