The article presents the experience of coordinated work of public organizations, state authorities and local self-governments on strengthening harmonized interethnic interaction in the region with a multi-ethnic population. It is noted that the intercultural communication in the Jewish Autonomous Region is presented in the context of preserving national security. Making favourable intercultural interactions is based, first of all, on personal changes when matching another ethnic culture is achieved. The practical significance of the research is caused by the growing interest in studying social and ethnocultural aspects of migrants’ adaptation for the activities of educational institutions, national-cultural autonomies and various state civil social institutions to introduce necessary adjustments, in particular, in the behavioural stereotypes of migrants. That is what seems to be a vital purpose. The importance of involving professionals from state authorities, holding regular ethnocultural events to maintain a harmonized image of the region within the inter-ethnic communication is focused. At present, interethnic and intercultural processes developing within the modernization of the public sphere and significant decentralization of the state mechanism are marked by significant regional characteristics. In particular, regional authorities are the main participants of ethnocultural policy. All this determines the relevance of studying theoretical and practical problems of harmonization of interethnic relations both at the macro-sociological level and at the level of regional multi-ethnic communities.
Keywords: Intercultural communication, interethnic relations, migrants, migration processes
A precondition for ethnocultural security is its ability to withstand external and internal threats to people and territory. For the security of ethnic groups, interethnic conflicts are potential internal dangers that might often bring things to their extremities- nationalism and national extremism.
The Jewish Autonomous Region (JAR), like the rest of the Russian Federation, is a multi-ethnic territory, and relations between different national communities and their representatives are important for security here. In this regard, the study of inter-ethnic relations on the territory of the JAR is important from the point of view of national security, as it aims to determine the real relations of this nature and analyse the key original information for the successful public and state regulation. In the article, we will decide upon the key problems of interethnic interactions in the region and analyse possible ways of solving them.
The scientific term of the study consists of outlining the special features of migrant-phobia problems, the problems of integration of migrants into the host environment and the problems in the field of interethnic communication.
The objective of the research is interethnic interactions, communication relations between the subjects of the interethnic environment. The subject of the research is the mechanisms of solving inter-ethnic problems in the region.
When analysing the problems of harmonization of interethnic relations, the theoretical developments of national and foreign authors in the field of sociology of consent and harmonization of ethnocultural relations (Bedrina & Lazareva, 2021; Bliakher & Ivanova, 2020; Cieslewska & Biajet, 2020; Grigorichev & Koptseva, 2020; Kempf, 2020; Semenova et al., 2021; Ushnitsky & Alekseeva, 2019) were used as methodological procedures.
Purpose of the Studу
The purpose of the article is to report on the solutions to the problems in the field of interethnic interactions in the region. The purpose of the research predetermines several tasks: to define the peculiarities of the ethnocultural situation in the region and find out the reasons generating inter-ethnic conflicts; to describe tools and ways of solving problems of communication between different ethnic groups living in the region.
The following research methods were used as part of the article: the method of statistical data analysis, review of secondary results of sociological research carried out in other regions of the Russian Federation.
Making up a national self-awareness and ethnocultural identity is an important state policy tool. Avoiding aggression and disrespectful attitude towards different ethnic groups has been essential. The relevance of this strategy was also emphasized by the President of the Russian Federation at the Inter-Ethnic Relation Council held on March 30, 2021. According to Vladimir Putin’s report, insider and outsider distinction is not the best example for upbringing a younger generation. Furthermore, the President stated that patriotism is not an inborn trait; on the contrary, it is developed throughout life (Sovet pri Prezidente RF..., 2021).
According to the research of several experts, the level of interethnic conflicts on the territory of the state has been decreasing in recent years. Nevertheless, several issues require a more thorough approach. In particular, these are the problems of adaptation of migrants to the host community, migrant-phobia, the problem of integration of migrants in the host environment and the problems in the area of interethnic communication (Mikheeva, 2018; Olimov, 2019; Smetanin, 2020).
Today, more than 80% of the Russian population assesses positively the development of inter-ethnic relations in the country, as Vladimir Putin stressed at the beginning of the meeting. However, such an important topic should not be neglected by the authorities and representatives of national diasporas. According to the President, the so-called ‘warfare (armed conflicts) zones’ marked on the map of the world have several economic and political reasons. One should not also forget the topic of inter-ethnic and religious intolerance, which in most cases is the source of these or other conflicts (Council of the President of the Russian Federation..., 2021).
For example, rival Hutus and Tutsi ethnic groups caused hundreds of thousands of collateral damage in the Rwandan genocide that occurred in 1994. Ethnic and religious infighting also resulted in Yugoslavia dissolution. Combat activity in the Balkans could not do without mass murders of unarmed civilians either (Mikheeva, 2018).
Every multi-ethnic community is implicitly characterized by different inter-ethnic relations - inter-ethnic harmony, tolerance, and xenophobia.
Interethnic harmony is expressed in the forms of a stable community of different ethnic representatives, their mutual respect, sympathy and empathy. Tolerance means a tolerant attitude, similar to indifference, among representatives of different ethnic groups.
Xenophobia is an attitude of rejection and even ethnically-driven violence. The extreme forms of xenophobia are nationalistic extremism and terrorism. Of course, interethnic relations, which prevail in a multinational community, are of great importance for public and national security.
The Jewish Autonomous Region (JAR), like other regions in the Russian Far East, is multi-ethnic and multi-confessional. The region is home to over a hundred nationalities. Each of them has unique spiritual culture, traditions and beliefs (Ob utverzhdenii kontseptsii..., 2013).
Therefore, it has always been important for the region to build friendly and loyal relations between representatives of different cultural values. Inter-ethnic and inter-confessional relations in the JAR were developed influenced by several factors. One of the most important is migration.
In the 1990s, more profound migration processes were observed in the Jewish Autonomous Region as opposed to other territorial subjects in the Far East. Representatives of the Jewish nationality, especially an intellectual class, who are bearers of culture and traditions, were included in repatriation, which are typical for post-Soviet Russia. Against the backdrop of repatriation at the beginning of the 21st century, the JAR is becoming more attractive for internal migration and emigration of citizens from CIS countries (Ob utverzhdenii kontseptsii…, 2013).
Modern information sources identify the following reasons for various interethnic conflicts among the typical ones: social and economic inequality of ethnic groups; irresponsible national policies; the consequences of the colonial past; the historic cultural heritage of the peoples, etc.
Social reasons include dissatisfaction with the demands of ethnic agents for civil equality; legal equality; equal access to education; equality in employment and wages; access to prestigious positions in state bodies; preservation or revival of the native language, freedom of belief and others (Dzhanyzykova, 2021).
Being aware of these reasons, representatives of civil society and state and municipal authorities can meet these demands.
Internal threats to national security may include factors of the natural, human-caused, epidemic, and industrial type (floods, fires, mass human and animal diseases, failures of vital communications, etc.).
External threats originate outside and eventually occur in internal social life. The migration of citizens from abroad, which is not controlled and regulated by society and the state, was called migration danger in modern sociology and criminal science and, accordingly, caused the advent of the concept of migration security (Kosmarskaya & Savin, 2021).
Since the Jewish Autonomous Region as a subject of the Russian Federation borders the more densely populated provinces of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), not only internal but also external threats are possible to public life as a result of cross-border immigration from abroad.
Most modern experts of different fields and guests of the region find the current state of interethnic relations among the population of the Jewish Autonomous Region well. In any case, there have been no visible inter-ethnic conflicts in extremist forms of their performance in the territory of the JAR for decades, comparable to the known conflicts of this kind in some EU countries, in the USA and other countries, in the territories and some settlements of contemporary Russia (the North Caucasus, Kondopoga in Karelia, Kushchevskaya village in Krasnodar Territory, etc.).
According to experts, the most important thing in the development of interethnic relations is the dialogue of cultures as an advantageous foundation for the development of inter-ethnic and inter-ethnic relations, since the culture of inter-ethnic relations is a universal value and is based on universal morality.
It is based on the development of humane, tolerant relations among people regardless of their ethnicity, promotion of respect for the culture and art of different peoples, as well as for a foreign language, as some researchers note (Nevmerzhitskaya, 2020; Olimov, 2019; Smetanin, 2020).
The Russian Federation is a multi-ethnic state with more than 170 ethnic groups. Each nation is willing for self-development and preservation of distinctive cultural layers. Nowadays, the self-development of a nation is impossible without close cooperation and interaction, which provides not the isolation of one ethnos from society, but the rapprochement of different peoples. The development of nations is strongly influenced by inter-ethnic relations in different fields of society.
It should be noted that the problem of regulating inter-ethnic relations is topical for this country and other multi-ethnic states. The principle of successful interaction of people of different ethnicities is a mutual desire to find an effective mechanism of harmonization of real relations; the creation of a friendly environment for inter-ethnic communication without a major change of social poly-ethnicity.
The achievement of this purpose will contribute to the matching of ethnocultural and ethnolinguistic interests of all citizens of the state, preserving its integrity and unity.
Development work on interethnic relations and interconfessional consent has been and remains one of the priorities in the Jewish Autonomous Region and in the city of Birobidzhan where there is a unique experience of joint life and development of different ethnic groups and cultures, mutually enriching each other.
Historically, people of more than one hundred nationalities live in the territory of the Jewish Autonomous Region, including in the city of Birobidzhan, without conflicts and interethnic collisions, and the attitude of one nationality to another is quite tolerant.
The Commission on Cultural Heritage, the aim of which is to preserve and strengthen intercultural links between the peoples of the region, is now successfully operating in the JAR. The members of the Commission have begun to develop various guided tours of historical and literary sites, publish booklets, install information boards identifying buildings and historical information about the spiritual values of the Jewish people, and install plaques to commemorate famous people who have made a special contribution to the history of the JAR.
Inter-ethnic conflicts are prevented and detected through the dialogue with voluntary associations and religious organizations, constant preventive work by the departments of the Mayor’s office and monitoring of the situation in the Autonomy.
Preservation work of civil accord is based on cooperation with different ethnic groups and religious denominations.
The upbringing of interethnic communication starts from a kindergarten, where a personality develops, by including issues of development of tolerant attitude to peers into pre-school learning.
The work then continues at school. In primary school, for example, subjects such as Tolerance Education and Citizenship Education are studied focused on developing tolerant attitudes to people.
Such educational topics develop students’ personality and their world view, and the way school copes with this task depends on the kind of thinking the child acquires, how he or she will relate to the world around them, how compatible their views are with those of others, how well they can listen to others and respect other people’s habits.
Much attention is paid to the development of children’s multi-ethnic attitudes. The events are held in cultural institutions, sports halls and general education institutions to promote patriotism and, in particular, to prevent inter-ethnic discord and encourage respect for representatives of different cultures, religions and ethnic groups.
Classroom hours, excursions, various concerts, exhibitions, film lectures and meetings of veterans with young people are widely used in the city and provincial schools.
For example, the following activities are held in Birobidzhan: quarterly monitoring of inter-ethnic relations, various events in the city’s schools on the prevention of extremism and terrorism, and legal lectures on building permissive relations between people of different ethnic groups.
The main aim of all the events is to promote patriotism, prevent the involvement of young people in extremist and other illegal activities, identify problems quickly and prevent inter-ethnic conflicts, develop a sense of sincere, conscientious and creative patriotism among children and young people, and foster mutual understanding. Inter-ethnic harmony builds the system of spiritual and moral education, which meets the internal and external challenges facing Russia.
Working with parents takes a special part in education. Issues relating to patriotism, inter-ethnic peace and tolerance in a family are included in general education programs for parents. Awareness-raising work has been organized with parents and their children on criminal and administrative liability for nationalistic and other extremist actions.
Television, print media, radio and the Internet are much more involved in developing the social and political climate and world view of the city’s population, especially a young generation. News stories in the municipal media promote respectful attitudes towards people of different religions and nationalities.
To conclude, all of the above proves that the role of ethnocultural events in the development of tolerant inter-ethnic and inter-confessional relations is remarkable. The Jewish Autonomous Region differs from other subjects of the Far Eastern Federal District in its historical uniqueness as well as the ability to apply the vast gathered experience of socio-cultural relations at present.
Willingness to a productive inter-ethnic dialogue, professional competence, support of cultural exchange in the mode of festivals of nationalities - all this is a certain foundation for the integration of national groups and ethnicities into the social and socio-economic fields of the region and makes it possible to prevent adverse events in the field of interethnic and interreligious relations and maintain an atmosphere of tolerance and stability in the territory of the JAR.
This study was carried out with funding from the Council for Awards of the President of the Russian Federation for the State support of young Russian scholars and leading scientific schools of the Russian Federation, Project No. MK-3204.2021.2.
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03 June 2022
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Titova, E. V. (2022). Intercultural And Inter-Ethnic Communication Problems. In & N. G. Bogachenko (Ed.), AmurCon 2021: International Scientific Conference, vol 126. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 982-988). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2022.06.109