Conference ‘Islamic Migrants in Russia, Europe and America’
On December 15, 2011, the HSE Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (LCSR) held a conference 'Islamic Migrants in Russia, Europe and America' in St. Petersburg.
The lectures were given by the well-known researchers - Mark Tessler and Kenneth Kollman. This was their first visit to to Russia, where they presented their latest research, hosted in collaboration with scientists of HSE.
Professor Kollman and his colleagues carried out several separate research projects on Muslim migrants in London (and Manchester), Madrid and Berlin. The first pilot study was conducted in these cities in 2004. In each city different sampling schemes were used, as the question of finding appropriate respondents was not clear. Moreover, two different methods of surveying were used. A telephone survey was held in the Great Britain, while in Madrid and Berlin researchers used face-to-face interviews. During the pilot stage, both qualitative and quantitative approaches were applied. There were 141 telephone interviews with Bangladesh migrants in London, 205 face-to-face interviews of Moroccan migrants in Madrid and 235 interviews with Turkish migrants in Berlin. In Madrid and Berlin, interviews were segregated by sex: male interviewers asked men and female interviewers spoke to women. Professor Kollman admits that the pilot stage cannot be considered as a cross-national study as different methodology and different samples were used. So these are different studies and it is not possible to make a comparison of the results from London, Madrid and Berlin.
Compared to the survey of 2004, the one in 2010 was shorter, simpler and more formal. The questionnaire consisted of 6 sections, including questions on basic personal information, self-identification, political attitudes, immigration experience, health and previous experience of being interviewed. In addition to this, other methods of sampling were used. For example, random route sampling schemes were used in Madrid. Inevitably certain problems arose during this research; For example, one of the main problems in the research conducted in Madrid was differences in the Spanish dialects used by Moroccan migrants. Professor Kollman emphasized that the researcher should be aware that certain words have different meanings in different languages.
One of the main aims of Professor Kollman’s study is a comparison between immigrants in the U.S.A and in Europe. It has been found out that religion helps Christian immigrants to feel comfortable in the U.S.A. The question is if religion is a barrier for migrants in Europe or not. The questionnaire included sections dedicated to the belief system and religious practices of migrants in the host country.
The research concluded that religion can influence people’s life strategies. The stronger the religious attitudes, the less respondents felt at home at the host country. Also gender is a part of the story: women attend mosques more rarely than men do. In Germany there is an effect of religiosity on discrimination. Religiosity matters least in Germany and most in Britain, according to the results of Professor Kollman’s study.
Mark Tessler claims that the recent uprising in the Arab world clearly shows that ordinary citizens in the Muslim Middle East have strong views about the way their societies should be governed. They are trying to take charge of their societies and to chart their own course and define their own destiny. Therefore, they want governments that are accountable, and democracy is a central concept for the vast majority of people. The major question which arises is how important do people consider the role of Islam in the political process.
14 Arab countries were studied by Mark Tessler. He uses the data from 2 phases of the Arab Barometer (2006 and 2011) covering about 25000 respondents. According to these results, 36.6% Arabs want democracy with Islam, 47.8 prefer a secular democracy, 8.2% would like to live in a country with a secular authoritarian regime and 7.4% want Islamic authoritarianism. Support for democracy is higher in the first wave (41%) in comparison with the second wave (33%). Support for democracy with Islam have also declined.
Regime evaluation, cultural values and respondents’ educational level were selected as the main drivers and predictors of whether Islam should have an important role in democracy or not. Cultural values imply attitudes to gender equality in this case. According to the results of the study, those people who are more traditional are more likely to favor Islam in the political process. In regimes where there is strong connection with Islam, people would like to have an Islamic government. Men and older women in secular regimes such as Egypt and Tunisia prefer Islamic democracy. Moreover, the more educated people are, the lower support for democracy is across countries. A low educational level provides a lower support for democracy among older people in secular regimes.
Mark Tessler emphasized that these are only the preliminary results of his work. He is planning to make further steps in the development of his project. Specifically, he is going to conduct a separate analysis for each survey, perform a 2-level analysis to identify the conditioning effects of a country and the temporal characteristics, as well as testing additional individual-level hypotheses and new independent variables (e.g. level of tolerance, economic situation, civic engagement) and aims to expand the database by including non-Arab countries.
Women who have moved to another part of the country tend to have higher fertility than those who stay in the same community all their lives. Relocation often improves a woman's life circumstances and broadens her choice of marriage partner, thus supporting her reproductive intentions, according to Svetlana Biryukova, Senior Research Fellow of the HSE Center for Studies of Income and Living Standards, and Alla Tyndik, Leading Research Fellow at the RANEPA.
In Russia, the demand for migrant workers is highest in economically developed and resource-extracting regions, in areas with low population density, and in construction and industrial companies. Employers prefer to hire low-skilled migrants with no education beyond secondary school and limited work experience of less than a year, since these workers are much cheaper than locals. These are some of the findings from a study by Elena Vakulenko, Assiant Professor at the Department of Applied Economics, HSE Faculty of Economic Sciences, and HSE student Roman Leukhin.
In the near future, the number of migrants from Central Asia coming to work in Russia will increase – particularly from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, countries where remittances from their citizens working in Russia stand at almost half of their respective GDPs, according to a joint study by the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the HSE Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (LCSR), and the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS).
On October 22, the HSE Public Policy Department and the Course on Comparative Migration Policy will hold a panel discussion on the European refugee crisis. Dr. Mahama Tawat, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences and a specialist in comparative migration policy, will serve as one of the panel members. Dr. Tawat recently spoke with the HSE news service about his research interests, what attracted him to HSE and his views on tolerance and diversity.
Children of labour migrants from Central Asia don’t want to preserve their ethnic self-definition, i.e. to speak their native language and follow their cultural traditions. They try to distance themselves from people of their ethnic identity and become fully locals. Both Russian schools and parents further this process, concluded Raisa Akifyeva, senior lecturer at the St. Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Humanities Department of Sociology, as a result of her research.
There is not a single country in the world where all people share the same system of values. Every society has members focused on serving others as well as those who value personal achievement above all and rely only on themselves. Independent altruists committed to helping others, yet expecting nothing in return, are relatively rare in all European countries, particularly in post-Soviet countries, where their proportion is among the smallest, according to Vladimir Magun and Maksim Rudnev of the HSE's Laboratory for Comparative Studies in Mass Consciousness.
Relations between Muscovites and migrant workers from the CIS are plagued by myths circulating in the mass consciousness. In her research, Yulia Florinskaya , a Senior Researcher with HSE’s Institute of Demography, refutes prevalent statements that migrants not only take jobs from Muscovites, but also seriously increase the burden on healthcare and intentionally maintain illegal status.
Russians would like their children to value achievement and wealth more than they themselves do. This stems from the reality and norms of modern life, Maxim Rudnev and Alexandra Savelkayeva from HSE’s Laboratory for Comparative Studies of Mass Consciousness noted in a study on intergenerational value transmission.