Ethno-Confessional Attitudes Of Russian Teachers: Results Of The Experimental Research


The review of the empirical research results of the social attitudes of teachers conducted in 2016-2017 in Russia is presented in this article. We concentrated on this group of respondents, considering a special role of the teacher in multicultural conditions of modern society. The research objective is to define the prevailing teachers’ attitudes to ethno-confessional distinctions in Russia. Age grades and spheres of professional activities were chosen as the differentiating signs of the social attitudes of respondents. Using the adapted form of Emory Bogardus’ scale of social distance, the relation of 355 teachers to main affiliations and ethnic groups (including migrants) was gaged in poly-cultural regions of the country: Moscow and Moscow region, Kazan and the Republic of Tatarstan. The received results in general show a tolerant attitude of teachers towards cultural diversity. The minimum social distance is established in relation to innates of the region. The level of cultural penetration is slightly lower to representatives of the Caucasus and Central Asia. The analysis of perception of confessional groups confirms the positive relation and readiness of teachers to interact with representatives of other religion. Besides, it is noted that attitudes of teachers to ethnocultural distinctions significantly don't depend on their age or their spheres of professional activity. Results of this research can be used when studying attitudes of teachers to migrant pupils in educational conditions.

Keywords: Teachersethnic attitudesconfessional attitudessocial distancemigrants


In the conditions of globalization many countries including Russia, face a problem of training and education of pupils – representatives of ethnic minorities. The committee of the Council of Europe in the Directive of June 29, 2001 has promised "to assist the increase of awareness on requirements of human rights and the duties following this in democratic society, and for this purpose to encourage the creation of a climate of active understanding and respect for culture of other people in an education system starting from the preschool level " (point IV, III). Questions of cultural recognition in educational institutions take the important place in societies with a large number of migrants, where the most noticeable organizational role belongs to the teacher. Daily interaction between pupils and teachers opens many opportunities for mutual contacts and the teacher can be considered as one of the most important figures for newly arrived pupils. Therefore, it is important to concentrate on the teacher and on interactions between the teacher and the migrant pupil, but first of all, the research of the previous social experience of teachers, studying their attitudes to representatives of various ethnicities and confessions is necessary (Grant and Tate, 1995).

In psychological science, there are certain theoretical prerequisites for studying social attitudes. The concept "attitude" was introduced in 1918 by sociologists Thomas and Znaniecki when studying problems of adaptation of the Polish peasants who emigrated to America for the first time. In the work "The Polish peasant in Europe and in America" they defined "attitude" as "a condition of consciousness of the individual in relation to some social value", experience by the person of sense of this value (Thomas, Znaniecki, 1918). Most often the person gets attitudes in finished form, it depends on the culture of the person and his social experience (Allport, 1935). For smoothing serious divergences in the definitions given to this concept, Smith in 1942 suggested to distinguish the structure of attitude based on three of its interconnected components: cognitive, emotional and behavioural (Shikhirev, 1999). Ethnic and confessional attitudes take the main place among social attitudes. Being formed in a border area of ethnocultural contacts, ethno-confessional attitudes fix the emotional-estimated attitude towards own ethnic group, religion, towards other ethnic groups and towards their certain representatives. Therefore, ethno-confessional attitudes are differentiated by their "emotional" saturation on "positive" and "negative". Specific feature of ethno-confessional attitudes is that they aren't permanent, can metamorphose and can change to absolute opposites under the influence of internal and external factors. In consequence of new information beliefs, opinions and knowledge of the person, i.e. a cognitive component of orientation system, can change (Shikhirev, 1999). Ethno-confessional attitudes can promote both solidarity formations, and creation of "an image of the enemy" therefore studying them is of a great interest.

In modern Russia, problems of social attitudes and relations towards various ethnic and confessional groups are developed insufficiently. It is necessary to refer to considerable researches in this area; works of academics of National Research University “Higher School of Economics”: Berry (project manager), Lebedeva Tatarko (Psychology in Russia, 2016), etc., studying mutual attitudes of migrants and the accepting population in poly-cultural regions of the Central and Southern Russia: Moscow, Stavropol Krai, Penza, Kabardino-Balkar Republic,. In these researches, according to Berry’s theory of the accultural expectations (Berry, 1997), extents of their coincidence or discrepancy come to light, and also the strategy of cross-cultural communication in practice of daily interaction are considered. Social attitudes of the Russian students have become objects of research of various scientists in recent years. In Abakumova’s and Grishina’s (2016) research, ethno-confessional attitudes of modern Russian students to labour migrants as to social groups are considered, the role of mass media in the formation of outlook of modern youth is defined. In Lyapunova’s work results of the empirical research of the attitude of students in Arkhangelsk towards representatives of various ethnic groups in the region are presented (Lyapunova, 2014). In Kuzmin’s and Petrova’s article "How do school students of the Urals and their parents treat various nationalities?" mechanisms of perception of various ethnic groups depending on the nature of communication of parents and their children are described (Kuzmin et al., 2015). The attitude of inhabitants of the Republic of Bashkortostan towards representatives of various nationalities – as constantly living in this region, so as migrants from Central Asia and the North Caucasus is measured in a research of scientists of the Bashkir state university (Shaykhilislamov & Sadretdinova, 2015).

The above-mentioned analysis of sources has revealed that questions of Ethno-confessional attitudes of teachers and perception of migrants in domestic scientific literature still weren't considered. At the same time, there is rather large number of the researches concerning this problem abroad. In a number of researches, problems of perception by teachers of religious, ethnic and cultural diversity in different countries are revealed (Jackson, 2011, Knauth et al.; 2008, Valk et al., 2009), and attitudes of the teacher to multiculturalism (Berry, 1997; Biktagirova, 2017; Horenczyk, 2002; Ozen, 2015; Níkleva & Rico-Martin, 2017; Yuko, 2013; Ayaz & Oral 2016, and others). Many researchers consider, that approaches and behaviours of teachers in relation to various cultural populations don't exist in social vacuums. More likely, they are inclined to reflect and be subject to the influence of norms and values of both wider society, and educational conditions in which they interact (Horenczyk, Tatar, 2002). In scientific terms, not without interest are cross-cultural comparative researches of social attitudes of teachers in the European countries: Ireland, Great Britain, France, Latvia, Italy and Spain (Fine-Davis et al., 2014). In these researches, the attitudes of teachers towards ethnic and religious minorities, pupils of different nationalities are compared and opposed. The received results show in general the positive attitude of teachers towards the growing cultural diversity in society and in their classes. Moreover, comparative researches show that in multi-cultural countries, a wide perception of pupils of not indigenous nationalities are better, than in mono-cultural countries. It demonstrates that bigger variety and intergroup contacts in society lead to better inclusive relations at schools.

Problem Statement

In the context of the extending migratory processes in the world, problems with searching for scientifically based ways of migrants’ integration into new sociocultural conditions by means of education are strategized. As Emler, Okhana and Moskovichi (1987) note, most likely the teacher becomes the most noticeable organizational role in educational institutions. Intensive daily interaction between pupils and teachers at schools opens many opportunities for mutual contacts and acquaintances and indicates a very high status of teachers in the lives of their pupils (Tatars, 1998a). Thus, the teacher can be considered as one of the most important figures for migrant pupils arriving to new society. Grant and Tate (1995) claim that it is very important to concentrate on the teacher - and on interactions between the teacher and the pupil - in culturally multiple conditions to understand how schools treat cultural diversity. They offer the research program with the emphasis of the teacher which includes a research of the previous experience of teachers with various groups of the population, their attitudes towards cultural diversity in society. This direction of a research in this line is urgent for Russia in domestic science if it hasn't been developed earlier.

Research Questions

The research is directed to the solution of the following questions:

1. What is the average social distances between teachers and representatives of different ethnicities and faiths?

2. Is age a factor in defining the attitudes of teachers to cultural diversity?

3. Is there a dependence of Ethno-confessional attitudes from the field of professional activity of teachers (preschool educational institution, elementary educational school, high educational school)?

Purpose of the Study

Research objective is to define the prevailing attitudes of teachers to Ethno-confessional distinctions in Russia, and the influence of age factors spheres of activity of teachers.

Research Methods

In the research the adapted form of "Bogardus’s scale of a social distance" was used. This scale was offered by American scientist Bogardus, in the twenties of the last century for the measurement of social attitude - attitude to representatives of various social groups (Bogardus, 1926). The cornerstone of a scale is the assumption: the bigger the prejudice concerning specific social group the person has, the less he wishes to interact with members of this group. The scale of social distance is intended for the measurement of a social distance which divides different social groups from each other, for example, ethnic, religious and others. Bogardus's scale is the convenient tool for studying, how close the respondent feels to any ethnic or confessional group, and therefore it is used for the research of ethnic and confessional attitudes and stereotypes. Estimates by the scale of a social distance are distributed from 1 (the minimum social distance) to 7 (the maximum distance).

There are several variants for interpretation of Bogardus’s scale in Russia and in Ukraine (Paniotto, Panina, Abakumova and Grishina, Sergeyev's interpretations). For an assessment of research results we have chosen the variant for interpretation of a scale offered by Sergeyev (2008).

Table 1 -
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During questioning the questionnaire constructed based on Bogardus’s scale of social distance was offered to teachers. Each respondent followed the instruction: "There is a list of groups and statements in front of you. Opposite each group note statements which can become continuation to the phrase: "What relationship is acceptable for you with …". The questionnaire had included the following ethnic and confessional groups: Russians, Tatars, representatives of the Caucasus, representatives of Central Asia; orthodox Christians, Muslims.

Teachers had to note one or several answers corresponding to their attitude towards representatives of this group.

When processing the results, the point was appropriated to each answer of respondents:

  • The marriage relations – 1 point

  • Personal friendship – 2 points

  • To be neighbors – 3 points

  • To be fellow workers-4 points

  • To be residents of one city – 5 points

  • To be fellow citizens of one state – 6 points

  • To be citizens of the different states – 7 points

This variant of Bogardus’ scale meant several choices for one line. In case when the respondent chose one variant, we, relying on the principle of cumulativeness of a scale, assumed that the choice by the respondent of the most acceptable form of relationship means his consent with all subsequent statements. In cases when the respondent noted several positions on a scale of a social distance, the minimum value noted by the respondent was entered in the database. The calculated average rank of the received answers shows a social distance in relation to a certain ethnic or confessional group. And the less distance is, the more positively respondents treat a research object.

5.2. In the research, casual selection among teachers in advanced training courses in Moscow and Kazan was used. 380 teachers took part in questioning. 10 of these questionnaires were not given back. Moreover, as we have noticed, 15 of them were filled incorrectly, so they weren’t considered in the analysis of our research. Therefore, the selection which is subject to the analysis has included only 355 data obtained from teachers. The number of female respondents - 338 people, male – 17 people. Age of teachers – 20-56 years old. Preschool teachers – 93 people, primary education – 149 people, secondary education – 103 people. 53, 2% of selection - Russians, 46,1% - Tatars, 0,7% - other nationality (Ukrainians, Udmurts, Mordovians, etc.). 217 people work in multinational collectives, and in collectives of one nationality - 38 people.


Based on the obtained data, the size of a social distance in relation to representatives of separate ethnic groups has been calculated. Results of an assessment of social distance and their interpretation are presented in table 2 .

Table 2 -
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Modern Russia is characterized by existence of two types of the interethnic relations – integrated and not integrated. The interaction of various ethnicities based on long historical experience – Russians, Tatars, Ukrainians, Chuvashs, Mordovians, Maris, Udmurts and others belongs to the first type. The second type characterizes interaction of various ethnicities caused by migratory inflow of representatives of the Central Asian and North Caucasian people to the region at the end of the last and the beginning of this century.

By results of our research the minimum social distance (fusion) in the attitude of teachers towards ethnic groups, as was expected, was noted in Russians and Tatars. It is the distance defining close contact attitude. Respondents are ready to enter the related and friendly relations with Russians and Tatars. The explanation of this fact can be built on the fact that these are the largest national groups in Russia (Russians – 1st place, Tatars – the 2nd place from total number of nationalities). Therefore, the sphere of communication between Russians and Tatars is the tightest, both in society, and in the spheres of professional activity that promotes narrowness of their interpersonal contacts.

The social distance of teachers in relation to representatives of ethnic groups from Central Asia and the Caucasus ranges from 3 to 4. They can be characterized as institutionally accepted (tolerance). Respondents are ready to accept these groups as objective reality. They are ready to cooperate with them at work and to live with them in one city. Nevertheless, the level of cultural penetration is slightly lower here. We connect the growing social distance with the alerted attitude towards the ethnic groups from Central Asia and the Caucasus called by new flows of labour migrants from these regions. This relation even more objectively amplifies low social status of migrants from Central Asia.

Results of assessment of teachers’ social distance in relation to representatives based on faiths and their interpretation are presented in table 3 .

Table 3 -
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Ethnic and confessional attitudes in research practice most often are studied separately. At the same time, in sociocultural researches their strong interrelation was found more than once. In our research, we have also discovered this dependence. The social distance to Russians (ethnic Christians) and Tatars (ethnic Muslims) practically coincides with a social distance to orthodox Christians and Muslims (1,45:1,64; 1,69:1,80). The received results confirm mutual, close and positive perception, constructive cross-cultural dialogue, and readiness of teachers to interact with representatives of other faith in various social situations.

Detection of dependence of Ethno-confessional attitudes of teachers on the sphere of professional activity and age became the following stage of experimental study. For the dispersive one-factorial analysis we have taken the equal number of examinees from different levels:

A) 1st level - preschool education; 2nd level - primary school education; 3rd level - secondary school education.

B) 1st level - 20-30 years; 2nd level - 31-40 years; 3rd level - 41 years and more.

In the beginning, we used Livin’s criterion to define a possibility in applying one-factorial ANOVA. We determined that dispersions of the compared groups by the factor of "field of activity" weren’t uniform, that is distinctions between them have qualitative character (values р ≤0,05). In this case, incorrectly carrying out one-factorial ANOVA, that is comparison of the studied groups. Dispersions of the compared groups by a factor "age" statistically significantly don't differ (values р> 0,05). It gives us the grounds for further use of results of one-factorial ANOVA. But as a result of its application it has been revealed that indicators at groups of different ages are statistically not significant:

1) F =0,329 under p≤0,05, p=0.720.

2)F =0,913 under p≤0,05, p=0.404.

3)F =0,995 under p≤0,05, p=0.372.

4)F =1,137 under p≤0,05 , p=0.324.

5) F =1,735 under p≤0,05, p=0.180.

6) F =0,258 under p≤0,05, p=0.733.

Results of the dispersive analysis fix that the field of activity and age have no significant effect on teachers’ attitudes to cultural distinctions.

Is it possible to compare the data obtained by us with results of other researches of Ethno-confessional attitudes of different social groups? Small distinctions in variants of Bogardus’s scale and ways of their interpretation, the list of ethnic groups, the number of examinees, and also time difference of carrying out a research disallow from obtaining precisely comparable data. Certainly, some other factors can influence Ethno-confessional attitudes of teachers. In this respect, it is interesting to study teachers’ attitudes in the conditions of the educational environment in which they interacy with migrant pupils. But it is already a subject of other research.


We consider as the main conclusions, following the results of the research:

1. Russian teachers in general show tolerant attitudes towards ethnic variety. The minimum social distance is established in relation to indigenous people of the region. Level of cultural penetration is slightly farther to representatives of the Caucasus and Central Asia.

2. The analysis of teachers’ perception of confessional groups confirms mutual, close and positive perception, constructive cross-cultural dialogue, and readiness of teachers to interact with representatives of other faith in various social situations.

3. Factors of age and the sphere of professional activity aren't key factors in teachers’ relation to various ethnicities and faiths.

4. Further studying of teachers’attitudes and factors influencing them in the conditions of the multicultural educational environment is necessary.


The work is performed according to the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.


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Khairutdinova, R. (2017). Ethno-Confessional Attitudes Of Russian Teachers: Results Of The Experimental Research. In R. Valeeva (Ed.), Teacher Education - IFTE 2017, vol 29. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 366-374). Future Academy.