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Civic and Ethnic Identity of Citizens of Russian Border Regions

Svetlana Maximova1, Oksana Noyanzina1*, Daria Omelchenko1 and Anastasiia Morkovkina2

1Altai State University, Barnaul, Russia

2Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

*Corresponding Author:
Oksana Noyanzina
Ph.D, Department of Psychology of
Communication and Psychotechnologies
Altai State University, Barnaul, Russia.
Tel: 79 236 440 285

Received Date: September 08, 2016; Accepted Date: November 16, 2016; Published Date: November 26, 2016

Citation: Maximova S, Noyanzina O, Omelchenko D, et al. Civic and Ethnic Identity of Citizens of Russian Border Regions. 2016, 14:27.

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This paper is on the development of a theoretically based civic and ethnic identity measure. The article presents the analysis of the parameters of civic and ethnic identity of the inhabitants of six subjects of Russian Federation situated near the state borders: Altai region, Zabaikalye region, Kemerovo region, Omsk region, Orenburg region and Republic of Altai there empirical studies with 2400 participants were carried out. The conclusion is made about the specificity of identity and the inter-ethnic relations of the regions. The boundary regions of Russia have a high national differentiation, thus, peaceful development of all cultures becomes a priority task. This policy would promote the growth of national consciousness, and further the sustainable development of the region. The results of survey show that following factors predetermine self-identification: the origin of man, the history of the region, patriotism, religious beliefs. Despite the cultural differences in regions of Russia, the government aspires to develop cultures of all nations in a multi-ethnic population of the country. The development of national cultures is being supported by governmental programs.


Civic and ethnic identity of country population is important factor of social accord and national unity [1,2]. Its indexes cause for level of civic participation and interethnic tension. That is why a close attention to problems of identity is appropriate among scientific and governing community. In December 2012 a new Strategy of state national policy of Russian Federation until 2025, promoting to the formation of united Russian nation, approved [3]. Measures for realization of the Strategy were worked out in each subject of Russian Federation-corresponding documents and legislation, empowered bodies, which are responsible for stabilization of interethnic relations. Such measures are actual for border regions, which are in close inter-state connections. Of course, each region has unique situation, caused by history, national composition and so on, and these requires for researches of condition of civic and ethnic identity in regions of country.

Views on the Concept of Self-identification

A notion of ‘identity’ firstly emerged in works of D. Hume. It became widely reflected in psychological, anthropology, political and sociological theories. According to English psychologist H. Tajfel, social identity is ‘the part of Self-concept of individual, that emerge from understanding of own group membership together with value and emotional significance of the group [4], i.e. individual’s self-identification with certain community.

Several basic approaches to the research of social identity could be highlighted: symbolic interactionism, cognitive theory of social identity and constructivist theory.

As for psycho-analytic approach [5], identity understood as internal continuity of a personality. Significant input of the given theory is in recognition of variability of identity and description of mechanisms of its formation through interiorization of values, goals and convictions, either conscious or unconscious [6].

In symbolic interactionism [7,8] social identity acts as the mean of delimitation against other people and instrument of integrity with society, at the same time. Mechanisms of identity formation determined as a result of socialization [7], assimilation of Self representations of the ‘generalized other, and roles, prescribed by social structure, but caused by certain personal features of an individual [8].

Thus, according to the theory of ‘reflected or looking-glass self’ by Charles Horton Cooley, self-identification depends on imaginations of others about him/her in process of social interaction, first [7]. In G. Mead opinion, identity determined by attitudes of the ‘generalized other’ - averaged image of representatives of social groups, which his/she tends to belong [9]. The preposition to formation of identity is development of ability to ‘take the attitudes of others’. According to E. Goffman’s theory of Frames, construction of self-presentation of social subject determined by its personal characteristics and social position, which determines the system of norms and necessity to follow them. In this way, social identity in these theories understood us a result of internalization of self-image in attitudes of the others by a subject, perceived in social interactions.

A way to identity from the point of view of described theories suppose forming of its general components in socialization process. It is also assumed, that social identity characterized by a certain stability and influence on behavior of social subject in different situations in the same way.

Further sociological researches of identity mostly accent on the role of social context in its formation. In such frameworks scientists study mechanisms of culture (as the whole) influence on process of identification and pay attention to concrete situations of interactions as forming situational identities.

Representatives of constructivist approach to identity [10] concentrate on determination of mechanisms of perceiving social reality. In Berger and Luckmann’s theory, identity is a part of subjective reality, result of interaction between personality and society. In their opinion, a unique identity forming under influence of concrete social structure and is peculiar to each historical epoch.

Identity as general element of subjective reality revealed in result of interactions between society and personality is one of central notions of P. Berger and T. Luckmann theory. Identity determined by character of social structure and able to be a factor of its transformation. Berger and Luckmann deny the appropriateness of use ‘collective identity’ notion and suggest the statement about existence of types of identity, originated from separate historical social structures.

A. Giddens in his structuration theory almost identify social identity from positions of actor (‘human agency’) in social structure. Social structure determines actor’s rights and duties and postulates situational character of identity, revealed in frameworks of concrete social practices.

Authors of cognitive theory of social identity [4] determine identity as a system of senses, regulating behavior of social subject and forming in the process of categorization of social surroundings. According to H. Tajfel, social identity-‘is a person’s sense of who they are based on their group membership(s).

Those part of individual’s Self-concept, what emerge from sense of social group belonging together with value and emotional meaning of the in-group and out-group’. Here identity is not only the mean of personality’s orientation in society, but base for inter-group differentiation.

Researches of social anthropologist R. Barth, who showed how group efforts in support of ethnic borders promote to perception of cultural differences as considerable and ethnically important, could be mentioned here. Barth’s approach is general principle in researches of ethnic identity and cultural borders in constructivist paradigm [11]. T. Stefanenko specializes in research of ethnic communities and empathizes several functions of social groups, which any individual could identify with: a) orientation in surrounding world; b) determination of general vital values; c) protection and provision of well social and physical being. Group identity, including the ethnic one, in her opinion, bases on subjective perception, interconnected cognitive and emotional processes predominantly, but not prescribed from the outside.

Social identity is not homogeneous and consists of many structural components, including ethnic and civic identity. Striving for formation of united national identity, expressed in the Strategy of state national policy of Russian Federation, has a certain theoretical base. Thus, according to L. Drobizheva, if different types of identity (civic, ethnic, regional and local) are combined and do not counteract to each other, social development could be harmonic. When civic and ethnic identity are mutually associated, they able to strengthen each other. Furthermore, by data of W. Swann et al., different types of identities not always clearly divided in consciousness of individual and able to combine in united mixed identity. A. Iyer et al. made corresponding conclusions and revealed successful adaptation to the changes among persons with multiple identity.

Nowadays sociologists establish the transition from total givenness of identity by external conditions to its free construction by individual and mark its progressive uncertainty, caused by inclusion of individual into several number of groups and dynamics of contemporary society. Initially, ‘identity’ notion supposed continuity, totality and stability of personal experience as own conditions, but nowadays content of the notion understood as a problem. Thus, as Berger and Luckmann state, in contemporary society identity experience influence of many external factors, which able to provoke full rejection of identity. One of such factors, according to M. Ahearne, F. Kraus and others, is the level of identification of surroundings with given community: the higher the level of identification of other people (in authority, especially) the higher individual’s identity [12].

In contemporary researches of social identity, we mark out the lowering of its stability and increase of its variability [13]. Transformation processes in contemporary world-globalization, deviation from traditions and so on-lead to the change in characteristics of civic and ethnic identity, forms of their revelation and level of significance, which cause for the necessity to develop and perfect the existing theoretical approaches and new researches.

Characteristics of Border Regions

The aim of the study was to describe characteristics of civic and ethnic identity in border regions of Russian Federation. Analysis realized basing on data of sociological research in the frameworks of the Project ‘Civic and ethnic identity in the system of preservation of social security of population in border territories of Russian Federation’, fulfilled in 2015. Six subjects of Russian Federation were engaged in the study: Altai region, Zabaikalye region, Kemerovo region, Omsk region, Orenburg region and the Republic of Altai.

The following indexes we used to study condition of civic and ethnic identity:

 Extent of identification with Russian citizens, residents of native region (settlement), representatives of own ethnos, religion, profession and so on (from 1 - ‘in considerable extent, largely’ up to 4 - ‘no any similarity’);

 Level of identification with ethnic groups, civic and religious community, counted basing on evaluation of 18 statements (from 1 - ‘absolutely disagree’ up to 5 - ‘absolutely agree’);

 Identification with one or several ethnic groups;

 Relation to representatives of alien ethnos;

 Relation to state national policy;

 Evaluation of level of interethnic tension in region and country;

 Evaluation of degree of manifestation of ethic` indexes by scale from 1 up to 10.

Construction of indexes realized according to Social Identity Theory [14], we suggested indexes of civic and ethnic identity, which correlate with often used in studies in the sphere of social identity (including national and civic components) [15]. In particular, works by R. Luhtanen and J. Crocker [16] provide indeed a proper base to aim at a more specific measure of ethnic and civic identity and a suitable approach in measuring the interested characteristics.

Used scales were designed and described in the works by M. Rosenberg [17], same indexes tested as the conceptually most important aspects in measuring national identity by G. Marks and L. Hooghe [18] and others. Indexes seem suitable to realize inspection of the identity aspects covered by the scale.

Regression analysis applied to evaluate the interaction between civic and ethnic identity with extent of religious identity and social-demographic characteristics of respondents.

We found useful to point out general characteristics of regions, which determine as peculiarities of civic and ethnic identity of their residents and as interethnic relations. Data about number of population and ethnic composition based of the All-Russian Population Census [19].

Altai region

Geographic position: The region is located in the South of Western Siberia. It borders with Republic of Kazakhstan in the south and south-west, with Alta Republic in the south-east, with Kemerovo region in the east and Novosibirsk region in the north [20-22].

Number of population - 2 419 755 persons.

Density - 14,20/km2.

Ethnic composition (%): Russians - 93,9; Germans - 2,1; Ukrainians - 1,4; Kazakhs - 0,3; Armenians - 0,3; Tatars - 0,3; Byelorussians - 0,2; Altays - 0,1; Kumandins - 0,1. It is the most homogeneous ethnic composition among presented regions.

National-policy here government realizes support of ethniccultural public organizations, regular ethnic-cultural events, national celebrations, festivals of folk arts and traditional culture. In regional government since 2010 works Council on questions of realization of the state national policy (before 2015-Council on ethnic-cultural development). Its goal is to form recommendations about questions of interethnic relations and preservation of ethnic culture.

Zabaikalye region

Geographic position: The region is located in the South-East of Siberia, in Zabaikalie. It borders with People's Republic of China in the south-east, Mongolia in the south, Buryatia Republic in the west, Irkutsk region in the north and Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Amur region in the east [23].

Number of population - 1 107 107 persons.

Density - 2,52/km2.

Ethnic composition (%): Russians - 89,9; Buryats - 6,8; Ukrainians - 0,6; Tatars - 0,5; Byelorussians - 0,2; Evenks - 0,1.

National policy. There are regional public organization “Assembly of Zabaikal people” and consulting-advisory body by the Legislative Assembly of the region-Assembly of representatives of Aginsk Buryat area. Local government supports activity of ethnic organizations and realize measures to preserve culture of ethnic minorities. In region approves a state sub-program ‘Strengthening of Russian nation and ethnic-cultural development of people in Zabaikalye region’. However regional residents mark insufficient attention to people of Russian nationality [24].

Kemerovo region

Geographic position. The region is located in the South of Western Siberia. It borders with Republic of Altai in the south, with Altai region in the south-west, with Novosibirsk region in the west, with Tomsk region in the north, with Krasnoyarsk region in the north-east and with Republic of Khakassia in the west.

Number of population - 2 763 135 persons.

Density - 28,47/km2, the most among presented regions.

Ethnic composition (%): Russians - 93,7; Tatars - 1,5; Ukrainians - 0,8; Germans - 0,9; Shors - 0,4; Armenians - 0,4; Chuvashs - 0,3; Byelorussians - 0,2; Mordvins - 0,2; Teleuts - 0,1; Kumandings - 0,01.

National policy. In the region functions the Department of culture and national policy, which includes Administration on national policy and Section of interethnic relations and support of indigenous small people. Local government supports organizations, occupied with preservation and interaction between ethnic cultures, assistance to local self-governing of native ethnic and ethnic minors. Practice of ethnological expertise in conflict situations rather spread and lets to create based recommendations.

Omsk region

Geographic position. The region is located in the South of Western Siberia. It borders with Republic of Kazakhstan in the south, with Tumen oblast in the west and north, with Novosibirsk region in the east.

Number of population - 1 977 665 persons.

Density - 14,02/km2.

Ethnic composition (%): Russians - 85,8; Kazakhs - 4,1; Ukrainians - 2,7; Germans - 2,6; Tatars - 2,2; Armenians - 0,4; Byelorussians - 0,3.

National policy. Department on national policy and religion functions in the structure of the regional Ministry of culture, its activity directed on protection of constitutional rights of representatives of different ethnic groups and promotion to the development of ethnic cultures. Omsk administration regularly organizes monitoring of ethnic-confessional sphere of the city. Regional government supports activity of ethnic-cultural public organizations and their projects.

Orenburg region

Geographic position: The region is located in the south of the Urals. Borders with Republic of Kazakhstan in the south, with Samara region in the west, with Chelyabinsk region and with republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortastan in the north.

Number of population - 2 033 072 persons.

Density - 16,18/km2.

Ethnic composition (%): Russians - 75,9; Tatars - 7,6; Kazakhs - 6,0; Ukrainians - 2,5; Bashkirs - 2,3; Mordvins - 2,9; Chuvashs - 0,6; Germans - 0,6; Armenians - 0,5; Azerbaijanis - 0,4; Byelorussians - 0,3.

National policy: In the region function Council on ethnic affairs, Assembly of Orenburg people, public council by the local authorities. Regional administration conducts different ethnic-cultural events, realizes measure on social and cultural adaptation of migrants and regional program on distribution of positive ethnic attitudes among youth.

Republic of Altai

Geographic position: The region is located in the south part of Altai Mountains. It borders with Kemerovo region in the north, with Altai region in the north-west, with People's Republic of China in the south-west, with Republic of Kazakhstan in the south-west, with Mongolia in the south-east, with Republic of Tuva in the east.

Number of population - 206 168 persons.

Density - 2,30/km2, the less one among presented regions.

Ethnic composition (%): Russian - 56,6; Altays - 33,9 and the most numerous sub-ethnos among them: Telengits - 1,8, Tubalars - 0,9 and Tchelkans - 0,5; Kazahs - 6,2; Kumandins - 0,5; Germans - 0,4; Shors - 0,1.

National policy. In the region functions Committee of the State Assembly El Kurultay on legislation and national policy. Regional administration works under provision of peaceful life among two general ethnic groups - Russians and Altays, solve inner ethnic problems of Altays, realizes special program on support of indigenous small people.

Representation of self-identity of the population in the Russian regions

It is worth beginning the analysis by the general evaluation of the indicators of civic and ethnic identities in six regions integrally, in the whole. One of the most evident indicators of civic identity is the auto-identification with the community of citizens of the country. As our data suggest, 98.0% of people, living in border regions, associate themselves with Russians, citizens of Russia. In particular, 78.2% of respondents experienced a great association with the community of Russians, whereas 17,4% - feel weak association (Table 1). Regional and local identifications were very strong as well: 94.4% respondents felt similarity with the citizen of their region and 94.6% - with the citizens of their village or town (Table 1).

Table 1. Distribution of responses to the question “Do you feel similarity with listed communities? To what extent?”, % by strings.

Community Largely Small extent Extremely rare No any similarity
Russian citizens 78,2 17,4 3,4 1,0
Citizens of region, province, republic 73,1 21,3 4,7 ,8
Citizens of my town, village 75,0 19,6 4,4 1,1
Representatives of my ethnos 67,6 24,1 6,3 1,9
Representatives of my religion 46,5 31,3 13,8 8,3
People of my generation 60,7 29,1 7,5 2,7
People of my profession 47,9 31,7 12,9 7,5
People of my income 40,5 36,8 15,0 7,6
People, who close to my political opinion 33,8 30,5 22,1 13,5

Post-soviet studies on the Russian social identity [14] state the priority of civic identity over the ethnic one. Our results reaffirm this statement. Only 67.6% of respondents felt a strong association with their nationality that is 10.6% less than those who identify themselves with the citizens of Russia. Even smaller portions identified themselves to a large extent with their generation (60.7%), profession (47.9%) or religion (46.5%). Thus, it became apparent that the civic identity of the citizens of border regions is more distinct than ethnic identity. Meanwhile, the latter, being inferior, is very important and occupy the second place in the identical hierarchy.

Significant differences between regions were found in evaluations of attachment to communalities of citizens of Russia, citizens of one’s region or place of residence (village or town), nationality or religion (χ2, p<0.05). Inhabitants of Zabaikalye region gave the lowest evaluations to all these communities, inhabitants of Kemerovo region - the highest ones (Table 2).

Table 2.Comparative distribution of responses to the question “Do you feel similarity with listed communities? To what extent?” (response “largely”), % by columns.

Community Altai region Zabaikalye region Kemerovo region Omsk region Orenburg region Republic of Altai
Russian citizens 83,3 56,0 86,5 81,0 80,6 80,8
Citizens of region, province, republic 79,3 51,9 87,0 71,2 75,0 73,0
Citizens of my town, village 80,0 56,4 90,5 71,1 75,8 75,0
Representatives of my ethnos 67,8 54,5 79,3 69,7 66,2 67,5
Representatives of my religion 38,8 39,0 58,4 42,6 58,8 41,8

In Kemerovo region such results could be determined by high ethnic homogenity of population (according to the Russian Census of 2010, the amount of Russians in the structure of population attains 93.7%, while other nationalities occupy only 1.5%). The low level of identification with given communities in Zabaikalye region could be explained by the recent formation of this region which current borders were established only in 2008 by the merge of rather heterogenic by their composition and population density (2.3 people per km2) neighbors. Provided that in five regions from 80.8% to 86.5% of respondents have reported a large extent of similarity with citizens of Russia, in Zabaikalye nonregion this rate achieved only 56.0%. The same could be said about regional and local identities which rates were higher in all regions except Zabaikalye.

The amount of those who feel a large extent of similarity with their nationality varied from 54.5% in Zabaikalye region to 79.3% in Kemerovo region. The association with the representatives of their religion was stronger in Kemerovo and Orenburg regions (58.4% and 58.8% respectively), assuming that the amounts of the faithful were approximatively equal in all regions.

For more detailed evaluation of the relationship among civic, ethnic and religious identities the respondents were asked to judge the statements about feelings of belonging to such and such community and their positive or negative assessment. For every type of identity mean values of indicators of agreement with statements were calculated. Given 1 point denoted full disagreement, and 5 points - full agreement, the mean rank for ethnic identity amounted to 4.09, for civic - 4.34, and for religious - 3.52 average points. The difference between mean ranks in regional subsamples was insignificant (H-Kruskal-Wallis test, p>0.05).

The scores of indicators of civic and ethnic identities, related to belonging to communities, varied to a moderate extent: 86.9% of respondents felt themselves a part of Russian culture, whereas the attachment to the culture of ethnic group was relevant for 82.4% of participants. The differences in emotionally colored evaluations of these attachments were more considerable: 67.6% of respondents agreed with the statement “I’m happy to feel myself a part of a certain ethnic group” and 79.1% were happy to be Russians.

Religious identity was significant for 52.1% of respondents from all regions and for 70.1% of those who listed themselves as representatives of a certain religion.

Let’s examine in more detail indicators of ethnic identity of population from border regions. Responding to the question “What nation (nationality) do you belong to?” 81.1% of the participants defined themselves as purely “Russian”, 14.5% reported that they belong to other ethnic group, and 4.4% identified themselves with two or more ethnic groups that implied they had a mixed ethnic identity. The amounts of Russians in particular regions corresponded to the data of the Russian Census of 2010.

Evaluating the ethnic identity, it was necessary to outline determinants which were basic for its affirmation. Most often respondents reported that the principal ground for their identification was the proficiency of language (75.1%), the origin and parents’ nationality (68.2%), the attachment to national culture (54.4%), the residence on the territory, considered being a motherland for ethnic group (42.0%).

In addition, the ethnic identity may also be characterized by attitudes towards and relations with other ethnic groups. About 38.2% of respondents had positive feelings towards representatives of other ethnos, 50.3% - neutral, and 8.8% - negative (Table 3).

Table 3.Comparative distribution of responses to the question “What do you feel about representatives of alien ethnos?”, % by columns.

  Altai region Zabaikalye region Kemerovo region Omsk region Orenburg region Republic of Altai Total
Definitely positive 14,5 14,8 7,5 11,8 18,9 33,6 16,9
Rather positive 24,1 18,8 23,8 15,5 22,4 22,9 21,3
Neutral 51,9 53,3 60,5 54,0 44,6 37,9 50,3
Rather negative 5,4 10,1 6,5 15,5 8,3 1,9 7,9
Definitely negative 1,4 0,8 0,3 0,5 2,0 0,5 0,9
Difficult to answer 2,8 2,3 1,5 3,8 3,8 3,3 2,7

Among all regions, the most tolerant attitudes were observed in the Republic of Altai - a region with heterogenic national composition (positive feelings were experienced by 55.5% of participants and negative - by 2.4%). The worse attitudes towards representatives of other ethnos were fixed in Omsk region: only 27.3% of respondents said that they had positive feelings and 20% - negative. According to the rating of inter-ethnic tension, calculated by the Center of exploring international conflicts “Bunches of anger”, the Omsk region had the least favorable inter-ethnic relations among all regions covered by our research. This region received an index of “3”, designating that in this region multiple cases of ethnically motivated violence and non violent actions were detected. Republic of Altai and Orenburg region were recognized as the quietest regions where such actions didn’t occur, while three other regions were qualified as middle-ranged and received index of “2” denoting that there were only non-violent conflict actions or unique and non-related to each other violent actions.

In the unified sample about 2.1% of respondents reported that they felt hostility towards people of alien nationality very often and 7,9% - often, that much less than the rates acquired during the all-Russia public opinion research in October 2013 where the same question was asked and the response “Very often” was given by 6% of respondents, “Often” by 14% (Russians about migration and interethnic tension, 2013). The antipathy to representatives of several nationalities is most often explained by their unwillingness to respect Russian customs and social norms (21,9%) and terrorism threats (21,3%). Meanwhile, the cases when respondents experience hostility from other nationalities are much rarer. In the whole, the majority of respondents (64.5%) describe their relations with people of other nationalities as normal and harmonious, 15.5% define them as friendly and only 9.6% respondents - as stressed, full of conflicts and dangerously explosive. Zabaikalye differed considerably from other regions, as far as the stressed, conflict character of relations was noted by 22.2% respondents from this federal subject.

The political slogan “Russia for Russians” was supported to a greater or lesser degree by 47,2% of respondents who identified themselves with Russians and 26.6% of those who belonged to other nationalities (43,3% in the whole sample). The considerable part of participants has noted that it is better to limit the entrance into the territory of Russia for representatives of different ethnic groups, especially for natives from Caucasus (33.5%), Chinese (25.8%), Gypsies (19.7%). About 17.4% of respondents were in favor of the entrance restriction for natives from the former USSR Middle Asia republics. Over third part of participants per contra contested a claim about possibilities of such restrictions, but in different region this amount varied significantly (Table 4).

Table 4.Comparative distribution of answers to the question “Whether to limit the stay in Russia of…” in six border regions, % by columns

  Altai region Zabaikalye region Kemerovo region Omsk region Orenburg region Republic of Altai
Natives from Caucasus 16,4 36,8 32,3 26,3 28,5 22,6
Chinese 15,1 35,5 22,8 17,8 16,9 17,8
Natives from the former USSR Middle Asia republics 7,5 14,2 18,8 20,8 15,1 8,3
Gipsies 12,6 10,8 17,0 17,8 20,2 16,6
Vietnamese 3,0 5,3 12,3 16,8 15,9 6,7
Jewry 3,3 3,7 2,8 2,8 4,8 4,5
Ukrainians 2,1 17,4 13,3 4,5 6,3 6,4
All nations, except Russians 7,7 6,6 10,8 20,5 6,0 2,6
We should not limit the stay of any nations 39,6 10,0 26,8 32,5 33,8 30,2

Thus, in Zabaikalye region, having borders with China, there were the highest restriction rates towards Chinese (35,5%), natives from Caucasus (36.8%) and Ukrainians (17.4%). In Omsk region 20,5% of respondents were in favor for entrance restrictions for all nationalities except Russians. The most tolerant position towards other nationalities, living in Russia, was expressed by the respondents from Altai region.

The probability of manifestation of interethnic violence was estimated as very little by the majority of respondents. Forthcoming mass bloody battles in the country were assessed as more or less probable by 23.7% of respondents, in the place of their residence - 8,1%.

The overall analysis of the state in interethnic sphere of border regions was completed by the assessment of 21 indicators representing 10-point graded scales. After mean values computation, several characteristics with highest means (above 6.0 points) were selected as revealing the most salient features of interethnic relations in border regions: “Mutual help in difficult situations without dependence of ethnicity”, “Interethnic friendship”, “Respect in relation to other ethnos”. In other hand, some statements with negative content were graded below 4 points: “Abuses in interethnic relations, physical violence (harm, fight)”, “Psychological pressure (insults, threats)”, “Denunciation in interethnic marriages”, “Unfriendly and hostile statements about people of alien ethnos” (Table 5).

Table 5. Evaluation of degree of manifestation of ethnic indexes (mean values, 10-scaled evaluations)

Mutual help in difficult situations without dependence of ethnicity 6,37
Inter-ethnic friendship 6,24
Respect to customs, traditions and language of alien ethnos 6,14
Respect in relation to other ethnos 6,02
Uncompromising and real work of government in the field of protection of people’s interests without dependence of ethnicity and religion 5,76
Support of culture and traditions of different ethnic groups 5,68
Support of national-cultural public organizations 5,66
Successful work of regional administration in solution of conflicts in the sphere of inter-ethnic relations 5,50
Public denunciation of nationalism 5,46
Effective system of management in the sphere of state national policy in region 5,46
Control in the sphere of legislation about state national policy 5,41
Support of confessions and religious organizations 5,37
Effective and public dialogue between government and ethic diasporas, ethnic minorities in socially important decisions 5,36
Fair distribution of positions and various benefits for any ethnos 5,18
Competition for leadership between representatives of different ethnos 4,15
Unfriendly and hostile statements about people of alien ethnos 4,06
Prejudice, what prevent friendship relations 4,03
Abuses in interethnic relations, physical violence (harm, fight) 3,76
Psychological pressure (insults, threats) 3,64
Denunciation in interethnic marriages 3,50
Unfriendly statements about people of alien religion 3,46

Assuming that negative events are usually thought to be perceived as increasingly more negative, these low estimates were relevant to the inverse sense of the statements meaning rather harmonious interethnic relations.

In the evaluation of parameters of interethnic sphere there were some significant differences between regions. Positives statements were estimated higher in Omsk and Kemerovo regions, while in Zabaikalye region the corresponding mean values were the lowest ones. The most considerable differences were related to the assessment of the state national policy. Regions were divided into three groups: the first with the highest rates (Omsk and Kemerovo oblasts), the second with lower but still over 5 points mean rates (Orenburg region and Republic of Altai) and the third with lowest estimates below 5 points (Altai region and Zabaikalye region).

The most significant differences from all-regions mean values were revealed in Omsk region by characteristic “Public denunciation of nationalism” (mean value 6.63, 5.46 in all-regions sample) and “Control in the sphere of legislation about state national policy” (6.43 and 5.41 respectively).

One of the most important factors of national accord and stability in the state is the national unity. Representing a complex and multiple-values notion, it could be defined as a process of uniting different people into one entity bound by common norms, values and interests, associated with social and political processes. The existence of national unity in Russia was declared by 56.3% of respondents, 32.6% were prone to deny it, while 11.1% of respondents could not explain their position about this question. The major grounds for positive answer to the question were as follows: “At critical moments Russia unites” (67.4%), “People help each other” (33.8%), “All nationalities get on peacefully” (32.3%), other variants were chosen by less than a third part of respondents (Table 6).

Table 6. Distribution of responses to the question “If you agree with the statement that there is a national unity in Russia, why?”, %.

Statements Rate
At critical moments Russia unites 67.4
People help each other 33.8
All nationalities get on peacefully 32.3
It’s characteristic for our mentality, our culture 27.6
There is no war in the country 27.1
People love their country 24.6
People have united during the accession of the Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia 23.4
People participate in sport and cultural cultural-mass and other events 21.7
People united during elections (2011-2012.) 6.8

The absence of national unity was explained by the majority of those who reported such an answer by high rates of misery and poverty, large gap between rich and poor, selfishness of people and the increase of animosity. About a third part of respondents related the lack of unity with the lack of national idea and weak manifestation of patriotism (Table 7). It is notable that the most infrequent variant was “multinational society”, implying that population didn’t consider ethnic differences being important causes of national disintegration.

Table 7. Distribution of responses to the question “If you don’t agree with the statement that there is no national unity in Russia, why?”, %.

People live in misery, there is a large gap between rich and poor 61,3
Everyone defends his/her own interests, thinks only of him/herself 48,6
People became more embittered 44,3
There is no unifying goal, national idea, patriotism 28,3
The state made efforts to disrupt people 13,4
Multinational society 9,3

At the next stage the analysis was focused on the essential characteristics of civic identity of population from border regions, discovered by the question “What does it mean for you to be a good citizen?” For 55.0% of respondents being a good citizen meant to be a patriot and love Russia, for 49.4% - to respect laws and the Constitution; for 33.4% - to have rights, granted by the legislation of the country and enjoy them; for 29,6% - to understand one’s civic duty and to have civic responsibility and conscience; for 29,0% - to feel stable and sure economically and morally (Table 8).

Table 8. Distribution of responses to the question “What does it mean for you to be a good citizen?”, %.

To be patriot, love Russia 55.0
To observe laws, respect the Constitution 49.4
To have rights, granted by the legislation of this country, and enjoy them 33.4
To understand civic duty, to have civic responsibility and conscience 29.6
To feel sure and stable economically and morally 29.0
Live constantly on the territory of the country 26.2
Not to want to leave the country 22.5
To be a self-actualized person 14.1
To feel interested in great and little affairs of the state 12.5
Respect authorities 10.7

Hence, the major attributes of civic consciousness were related in the conscience of people not only to patriotism and acceptance of responsibility towards what occurs in the country but also to guaranties of state, insuring the minimum of rights and freedoms. So, patriotism was the most significant element of civic identity. Although there is no agreement about its measuring, multiple social scientists, exploring national beliefs and expectations, consider the pride and the shame to be the most significant patriotic feelings. According to our results, 89.3% of citizens from border regions felt proud of the country. The most popular reasons of pride - the victory in the Great Patriotic War (67.0%), the authority of Russia in the world (34.1%), the great Russian art workers (31,8%) and the President of Russia Vladimir Putin (30.4%).

Over 60% of respondents felt a profound sense of shame for the country. The most remarkable causes of shame, noted by 74,3% of respondents - low incomes and standards of living, poverty and unemployment, followed by corruption, bureaucracy (42.8%), decline of industry, agriculture and economic in the whole (30.9%); alcoholism and drug abuse (27.5%). Causes associated with internal and external policy of the state were selected much rarer, that indirectly indicated the support of current political course of the government by the population.

Socio-structural determinants of civic and ethnic identities were explored by linear regression models. On the base of the preliminary analysis of statistically significant differences several categorical and ordinal predictors were chosen: region, gender, age, nationality, income (self-assessment of economic situation in the household), level of education, place of residence and index of religious identity. The principal results of regression analysis, including standardized coefficients and estimated overall quality of the model are given in Table 9.

Table 9. Regression models of prediction of civic and ethnic identity.

Predictors Civic identity Ethnic identity
Region 0,023 0,023
Gender 0,007 0,045
Age 0,009 0,079
Nationality -0,127 0,009
Income 0,010 0,017
Education 0,025 0,008
Place of residence (rural or urban) 0,020 0,076
Religious identity 0,405 0,420
R2 0,181 0,204

All factors in total had a considerable impact on the amount of explained variance, although the model for ethnic identity was more informative (R2=0,181 for civic identity, R2=0,204 for ethnic identity) and the influence of single factors was rather weak. It should be noted that the strongest influence on both civic (β=0,405, p<0,01) and ethnic identity (β=0,420, p<0,01) had religious identity. This index was constructed by means of indicators of the intensity of attachment to religion, including auto-identification with the representatives of certain religion or confession, the willingness to practice the chosen or prescribed religion and respect its doctrine. The high degree of interaction between these types of identities witnessed about more manifest disposition of religious respondents to a feeling of similarity with reference communities, including national (civic) and ethnic ones.

Among other predictors of civic identity, the most influencing was nationality (β=–0,127, p<0,01). Assuming that Russian identification was coded as “1” and other ethnos identification as “2”, more distinct civic identity was associated with Russian identification. For ethnic identity crucial impact was made by age and place of residence: the attachment to one’s ethnic group was greater in groups of respondents, living in gig cities and older people.


Our research has revealed that the Russian civic identity is shared by the majority of population from border regions and dominates over other types of social identity. Its basic components rely on the feeling of patriotism and civic responsibility, associated with the guarantees of security and welfare, required from the state. The ethnic identification is weaker than the civic identity, its main grounds are related to the objective characteristics of language proficiency and ancestry.

On the base of regression analysis, we found the most influencing factors, having impact on both civic and ethnic identity, among which the identification with religious communities was the most salient one. It was also revealed that the civic identity is more important for ethnic Russians, while the ethnic identity is stronger among older people and people, living in urban areas.

The research has permitted to detect differences in civic and ethnic identities manifestations, relevant for inhabitants of distinct regions, covered by our survey. Thus, citizens of Kemerovo region had the highest degrees of identification with civic and ethnic communities, the inhabitants of Zabaikalye region - the lowest one, in other regions the indicators of identity had intermediate but rather high rates.

The state on interethnic sphere in all regions could be described as favorable, especially in in Kemerovo and Omsk regions where it’s positive characteristics were highly estimated. Meanwhile, the attention should be paid to the existence of moderate level of interethnic tension in Omsk region and Zabaikalye region, expressed by the hostility felt by population towards representatives of other nationalities. The greatest regional differences were found in the evaluations related to state national policy realization.


This work was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, under the State Order for the scientific research “Civic and ethic identities in the system of maintenance of social security among population in border territories of Russia” No 28.1475.2014К.


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