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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article demonstrates how the study of social practices helps disprove myths on ethnicity in a global world and on the lack of political involvement in the ethnically marked Russian society. Furthermore, the article highlights the dangers of treating xenophobia solely as an attribute of extremism and lists problems that require targeted research for the purpose of preventing inter-ethnic hostility and creating a positive civic identity. Among other myths, the notion that globalization is making ethnicities disappear is not grounded in reality. Several latest studies published by Western authors prove that politicians continue to use the sense of ethnic identity for rallying their constituents, particularly when it comes to anti-immigration attitudes. The insights of Russian ethno sociologists also confirm that the sense of identity remains just as prevalent as ten years ago, both among ethnic Russians and among other ethnicities that the republics within Russia are named after. Furthermore, a very sizeable share of Russian citizens still harbors the idea of belonging to the same community with the people of their ethnicity. We would even go as far as to say that globalization may actually heighten the sense of identity, because globalization promotes free capital flow, and consequently, free migration of the labor force, resulting in environments that are culturally diverse to a notable degree and give rise to an “us versus them” mentality. This article considers the application of a constructivist approach to studying ethnicity, and proves that the improved version of this approach, which we refer to here as “constructivist structuralism”, is very efficient when applied to Russian realia. Methodology-wise, it is important to find the social and cultural core of the consolidation that the Russian identity rests upon in specific ethno cultural society segments, such as the ethnic Russian majority, other peoples living in Russia, and groups of migrants that are adapting to life in Russia. One of the important factors at the foundation of civic identity is the extent to which the ethnic majority’s ideological and psychological “imperialistic syndrome” of alienating others stops being relevant. In addition to the above, the article describes the issues that arise from the ethnic aspect of social inequality. We highlight the dangers of expanding the ethnic bias and giving social issues an ethnic subtext. This has become a major issue lately, as evidenced in the intentional exaggeration of data on crimes committed by immigrants. We describe the changes that result from bolstering the power vertical, including a certain depoliticization of ethnicity.
ethnic prejudices, ethnic ethnicity, social space, marking civil identity.
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