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Migrants in Moscow: Integration and Socio-Cultural Adaptation in Urban Environment

Priority areas of development: sociology, humanitarian
2015
Department: Institute for Social Development Studies
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

The goal of the study was to explore and describe the migrant workers’ modes of operation in Moscow, including the ways in which they use the existing urban infrastructure and create their own, as well as their modes of interaction with the host society. The study focused specifically on uses by the migrants of Moscow’s public services, including the strategies they choose when facing illness, the need to school their children, find housing and employment.

Methodology: The study is based on qualitative data collected through of in-depth interviews, focused the topics of “medicine,” “education,” and “Moscow’s Muslims.” Interviews were based on interview guides designed specifically for each of these research themes. The study also draws upon the results of focus groups conducted with teachers from Moscow city public schools (for research theme “education”).

Empirical base of research: The study draws upon 30 interviews with medical workers for “medicine” research theme; 35 interviews and one focus group with migrant women, and two focus groups with Moscow city public school teachers for research theme “education”; as well as 10 interviews with experts of migration and urban studies, 30 interviews with migrant workers on the integration of migrants in the city, and 30 interviews in mosques in Moscow.

Results of research: Place of residence in the city is one of the most important factors affecting the socio-economic integration of migrants in the host society (Massey 1985; Fong and Hou 2009). Place of residence of migrant workers in Moscow is not tied to any specific areas of the city, as there no “ethnic areas” in Moscow, which is explainable by peculiarities of the social structure of the city. Our study identified several types of barriers encountered by migrant workers from Central Asia in terms of access to medical care in Moscow. These include poor living and working conditions, lack of material resources, lack of information about existing opportunities, discriminatory practices on the part of Muscovites, the social exclusion of migrants. Schools, on the other hand, can often serve as a mechanism for integration of migrant’s children. Education in the school helps them to be included in host society, and to acquire familiarity with the Russian language more rapidly. Attending primary school is especially conductive for a child’s rapid integration into the host society. The main difficulties in terms of integration are encountered by teenage migrant children, who are having a harder time adopting to the new environment. More generally, the study demonstrates the ways in which Muslim migrants reconstruct in Moscow Muslim religious institutions and structures familiar for them from their experiences in their home countries. The feeling of belonging to the Muslim community in Moscow, and even to Moscow in general, is achieved through the involvement with the religious life of the Muslim community in Moscow.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results: Results of this study can be drawn upon for framing and formulating migration policy by Moscow city government and its agencies, as well as the for designing specific economic, social, and cultural programs in Moscow.

Publications:


Деминцева Е. Б. Создавая «гетто»: социальные кварталы Франции и их обитатели (1960–2010 гг.) // Вестник Томского государственного университета. История. 2015. № 5 (37). С. 105-112.
Kashnitsky I. S., Gunko M. Spatial variation of in-migration to Moscow: housing market VS socialist legacy / Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute. Series 2015/03 "NIDI Working Papers". 2015. No. 3.
Полетаев Д. В. Русский язык в адаптации мигрантов // Вестник Библиотечной Ассамблеи Евразии. 2015. № 3. С. 57-59.