Research Internship at Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science in St. Petersburg
Since the beginning of this academic year, Marika Sharashenidze has been a research intern at the Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science (LSES) in St. Petersburg.
Marika recently graduated from the Rice University in Houston, Texas, United States, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Medicine. This year, she came to LSES to study migrants’ children in St. Petersburg schools. Marika found the Laboratory when she was looking for migrants’ studies. She read LSES’s publications in English and found them useful. Then she wrote to Daniil Alexandrov, Head of LSES, and requested an internship. We spoke with Marika about how sociologists live in America and asked her to tell us about her research plans in Russia.
About coming to Russia
My parents grew up in Russia. My father is a Georgian, and my mother is a Jew born in Ukraine. Both of them moved to Kazan as kids, where they later met while they were studying at medical university. There is a language barrier problem between me and my parents. Their English isn’t perfect, and I can’t always understand 100% of what they say. I would like to improve my Russian to bridge this gap of misunderstanding between us, and now I can have a lot of practice here.
When you are a sociologist, people always say something like ‘Well, you’re never going to find a job’. They keep kidding about it. And I even think it’s funny. Sociology in America is one of the most multidimensional areas. If you don’t want to have only ‘white males’ as your classmates, you choose this major.
About those who study quality and quantity
In the U.S., everyone knows that if you are involved in quantitative sociology, your papers are more likely to be published than those with qualitative research. Of course, you can write a book, but how many books can a researcher publish throughout their life… five? In addition to that, the problem is that you have to have publications in order to be asked to write this book, and the journals are reluctant to accept papers based on qualitative data. This is only my opinion, however, and I might be wrong.
We carried out several mini projects at the university. I received my first grant from the Department of Jewish Studies. I was very interested in spatial sociology then, and at first, I wanted do go to Mexico and study graffiti there. But my parents would never have approved of such a trip. That’s why I had to go to study graffiti in Tel Aviv, and particularly, how an individual can influence a cultural space.
About plans in Russia
I’m going to study the interaction between schoolchildren from different ethnic groups. It seems to me that for Russians, it is very important to meet people at a young age, when their core ties are evolving. Usually they are formed at school, and in this case, it’s important to understand whether such ties evolve between schoolchildren of different ethnicities. This problem is also very relevant because Russia is the world’s second country in terms of transnational migration, and this phenomenon is not as well studied as in the U.S. During the first three months of my study, I’ll be carrying out observations at schools, and then I’ll be interviewing the schoolchildren.
About Russian schools
Your schools are a lot better! My school definitely didn’t look like this. I’m not sure and probably this was just the first school I managed to visit, but when I looked under the table, it was clean, and the walls are clean too, there are no drawings, marks, and ‘school graffiti’. I also noticed a ping-pong table in the hall, and then I wondered, why hasn’t it been stolen yet?
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