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Opportunities for socio-economic integration of migrants in Moscow: the main barriers and the strategies for overcoming

Priority areas of development: sociology
2017
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research:

The goal of the study was to explore and describe how migrants use the social and economic infrastructure in Moscow, and how they create their own infrastructure in a situation of social exclusion. This year we have studied the ways in which the labor migrants are integrated into the religious institutions of the city; the ways in which the migrant families are integrated into the educational system of Moscow; and the ways in which the social structure of the city affects the use of urban space by migrants. The experience of socio-economic integration of migrants in Moscow is compared to practices found in other countries and other regions of Russia.

Methodology:

The study is based on qualitative data collected through in-depth interviews focused on such themes as the urban Muslim infrastructure, social structure of Moscow, recreational and educational infrastructure available for migrant children. Interviews were based on guides designed specifically for each of these research themes. For studying the urban Muslim infrastructure and recreational and educational infrastructure available for migrant children we also relied on participant observation.

Empirical base of research:

For the study, we identified three main themes: 1) urban Muslim infrastructure. The use of mosques by migrants from Central Asia and from the Caucasus; 2) recreational and educational infrastructure available for migrant children. Here we have conducted preliminary research into the work of NGOs involved in educational programs for migrant children. 3) Analysis of contribution of migration to changing the social structure of Moscow districts. We have conducted in-depth interviews with labor migrants (N = 25), parents of migrant children (N = 26), representatives of NGOs (N = 9) and “children’s clubs” (N = 3). We also conducted semi-formalized interviews with experts in the field of urban planning (N = 8). We also conducted participant observation in mosques and prayer halls, in “children’s clubs,” at the sessions conducted by NGOs, and at the educational centers attended by migrant children.

Results of research:

The Muslim space of cities is diverse. In recent years, migration has become one of the most obvious factors of changes of the Muslim public space in Moscow. Muslim migrants arriving to the city began attending mosques and prayer halls, making the Muslim urban space more heterogeneous. It increasingly consists of both “local” Muslims and “newcomers” who also bring new religious practices in mosques. In the second part of our study we analyzed the contribution of migration to the changes in the social structure of the capital’s districts. The urban space is poorly structured, especially in the suburbs. In these areas, the available social services are used by all population groups, including the migrants. Leisure facilities, however, are concentrated in the central part of the city and in the areas along the “axes of prestige”, as well as in major shopping centers. The third part of the study focused on the educational strategies of families with children. In Moscow, there emerged new infrastructure for migrant children, which is also a part of the informal economy. During the last year, several “children's clubs” have been created in Moscow attended by migrants from different countries and regions. Yet, such places remain invisible in the city, even though they perform the most important role in terms of facilitating inclusion of migrant children in the host society.

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 for designing specific economic, social, and cultural programs in Moscow.

Publications:


Zelenova D. Contextualizing grassroots housing struggles in contemporary South Africa: Case study of the “Symphony Way Pavement Dwellers' Community”. // Social Movement Studies. 2019