Psychology in Russia: State of the Art Volume 9, Issue 1, 2016
Lomonosov Moscow State University
Intercultural relations in Russia and Latvia:
the relationship between contact and cultural security
Nadezhda M. Lebedevaa*, Alexander N. Tatarkoa, John W. Berry3' b
aNational Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia bQueens University, Kingston, Canada
^Corresponding author. E-mail: email@example.com
The project Mutual Intercultural Research in Plural Societies was designed to examine three hypotheses of intercultural relations: the multiculturalism hypothesis, the integration hypothesis, and the contact hypothesis. These hypotheses were derived from the Canadian multiculturalism policy (Berry, 1984), and their validity has been assessed in a number of countries. Our goal was to evaluate these hypotheses in Russia (Moscow) and Latvia (Riga). We used sociopsychological surveys of two dominant groups (Russian Muscovites and Latvians in Riga) and two nondominant groups (migrants from the Caucasus in Moscow and the Russian minority in Riga) employing structural equation modeling. A sense of perceived security promoted tolerance toward other cultural groups in three of the samples. Perceived security was related significantly to multicultural ideology in Riga, but there was no significant relationship to multicultural ideology in the Moscow samples. A preference for the integration strategy among the migrants in Moscow as well as among the Russians in Latvia promoted their better sociocultural adaptation and had a significant impact on the life satisfaction of the Muscovites but had no impact on the Latvian sample in Riga. Our results provided some support for the effect of intercultural contact on the acceptance of others in three of the groups: the migrants in Moscow, the Russian minority in Riga, and the dominant group in Moscow. However, among the Russians in Riga, the relationship between contacts and perceived security was negative. The multiculturalism hypothesis was confirmed with the dominant group in Riga and was partly confirmed with both the dominant and the nondominant groups in Moscow and with the Russian minority in Riga. The contact hypothesis received partial support with both groups in Moscow and the Russian minority in Riga but was not confirmed with the Latvians in Riga. There was partial support for the role of the integration strategy in promoting sociocultural adaptation and well-being among the migrants in Moscow and the Muscovites. These findings require additional analysis of the sociopolitical and historical context in Latvia in order to understand the psychological outcomes of acculturation among the Russian minority there.
ISSN 2074-6857 (Print) / ISSN 2307-2202 (Online) © Lomonosov Moscow State University, 2016 © Russian Psychological Society, 2016 doi: 10.11621/pir.2016.0103 http://psychologyinrussia.com
Keywords: integration, multiculturalism, acculturation strategies/expectations, intercultural contact, intercultural relations, multicultural ideology, life satisfaction, perceived
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia and the other former Soviet republics faced new challenges in achieving mutual acceptance among members of the larger society and members of other ethnic groups. We present here an empirical examination of the three hypotheses of intercultural relations (multiculturalism, integration, and contact) in the Russian and Latvian contexts.
Context of intercultural relations in Russia
According to United Nations estimates for 2013, the Russian Federation is the world's second-leading country in the number of immigrants (11.2 million), after the United States (with 45.8 million immigrants). The states of the former Soviet Union account for most of the inflow into Russia (in 2009, their overall share was 74%), with the relative contribution of Central Asian countries continuously on the rise. Russia now faces a different kind of immigration compared with that of the early 2000s, when most immigrants were ethnic Russians from the former Soviet states. These newer immigrants have lower educational levels and less professional training than previous migrants. Their knowledge of the Russian language is also lower than that of earlier migrants (Vishnevskiy, 2011).
From the early 1990s onward, this immigration was generally viewed by Russian officials as a transient phenomenon, and immigrant workers were regarded as nonpermanent residents. However, it is now clear that Russia has become an immigrant- receiving country, and immigration has become an enduring phenomenon. Immigrant workers are especially in demand in the country's larger cities. Moscow is the most popular destination for migrants. Its 10.38 million inhabitants include people from every ethnic group now living in the Russian Federation, as well as from a wide range of foreign countries. Although 85% of the city's permanent residents are ethnic Russians, they have experienced deterioration of living standards and social status. This change has raised fears among "native" Muscovites that they could be forced out of their established socioeconomic positions and could have their living standards lowered. Intercultural arguments, including references to differences in religion or education levels, are often used to explain the growing social instability and expanding crime rates in Moscow.
Thus, the problems of the mutual adaptation of these culturally distant immigrants and the Russian population are sharp and have resulted in the growth of xenophobia and of ethnic and religious intolerance (Lebedeva & Tatarko, 2013). Previously, in the Soviet Union, an ideology of "internationalism" and the promotion of an overall identity as "Soviet people" helped to avoid serious problems with intercultural interactions. Soviet people perceived themselves as equal to each other, irrespective of their ethnic origin. At present, with increasing migration and the rise of specific ethnic and religious identities, serious issues challenge intercultural relations in Russian society. As a result, the government is faced with the need to develop policies on migration and intercultural relations.
Context of intercultural relations in Latvia
Latvia also cannot be called an ethnically homogeneous country. Relations between the dominant ethnic group (the Latvians) and other ethnic groups play an important role in Latvia's domestic policy (Apine, 2010). Other ethnic groups therefore constitute a significant force in the shared experience of Latvian society. Ethnic Russians form the second largest ethnic group by size (26.0%) after Latvians themselves (61.4%) (The population of Latvia..., 2014) Russians are indeed in a unique position owing to a change in their status. Before the Soviet Union broke up, Russians in Latvia were the ethnic majority, but, after the fall, they immediately became the ethnic minority.
Modern European standards of democracy require Latvia to provide equal rights for both the dominant ethnic group and ethnic minorities when it comes to political participation. So what is Latvia's official policy toward Russians? Latvia's official policy toward national minorities is defined as "integration while preserving cultural and ethnic identity" (Permanent Mission of the Republic of Latvia to the United Nations, 2016). In Latvia, national minorities are officially defined as Latvian citizens who differ from ethnic Latvians by their culture, religion, or language and who have traditionally been living in Latvia for a long time and consider themselves a part of the Latvian state and society. People who are not citizens of Latvia are not considered members of a national minority, but they still enjoy the same rights as national minorities unless the law places restrictions on them. However, this definition presents a problem for national minorities, in particular for noncitizens residing in Latvia for an extended period of time (typically since the end of the Soviet Union). As of July 1, 2014, there were 276,797 noncitizens residing in Latvia (12.77% of Latvia's total population) (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, 2015). In comparison, citizens of the former Soviet Union who were residing in Russia after the fall received Russian citizenship automatically.
Noncitizens of Latvia are not refugees; they are guaranteed almost the same rights as Latvian citizens (they have the right to reside permanently in Latvia and also have the same social guarantees as citizens). The main difference in rights is that noncitizens cannot vote or be elected and cannot hold public office or positions related to national security. On July 22, 1994, policymakers adopted an official citizenship law that described the naturalization procedure that began in 1995. Naturalization is the process by which an applicant for citizenship is awarded Latvian citizenship after passing exams on the Latvian language and on the history of Latvia and after swearing an oath to the Latvian Republic. But, in reality, this process better represents assimilation than integration because the purpose of naturalization is the gradual removal of the Russian language from daily communication. Language is, after all, one of the strongest ties people have with their culture. The second step in carrying out the assimilation policy toward the Russian minority in Latvia has its roots in education. In 1998, a new education law (in effect since June 10, 1999) had a significant impact on the education of ethnic minorities in Latvia (Republic of Latvia, 1998). Before 1999, there were both "Latvian" schools and schools for ethnic minorities in Latvia. Teaching in schools for ethnic minorities was carried out in their native language (for example, in Russian schools children were taught in Russian), and the state language (Latvian) was taught also as a special discipline.
The 1998 law introduced a new term: "schools using national minority educational programs." In this way, the Russian language started to gradually become less relevant in education. Therefore, we can conclude that through its declared integration policy, Latvia is actually implementing a gradual assimilation policy for ethnic minorities.
Theoretical background of the hypotheses of the research
We have derived our research hypotheses from the three theoretical propositions on interethnic relations in plural societies (Berry, 2013). The first, termed the mul-ticulturalism hypothesis, links cultural maintenance with positive intercultural relations. This hypothesis proposes that when people are secure in their own identity (when there is no threat to their culture and identity), they will be in a position to accept those who differ from them. This hypothesis is derived from a statement in the Canadian multiculturalism policy to the effect that when individuals are confident in their cultural and personal identities, intercultural relations will become more positive (including willingness to engage in intercultural contact, respect for others, and reduction in discrimination). Conversely, when people feel threatened, they will develop prejudice and engage in discrimination (Stephan, Renfro, Esses, Stephan, & Martin, 2005). Substantial empirical evidence now supports this hypothesis in various countries (Berry & Kalin, 2000; Berry, Kalin, & Taylor, 1977; Kruusvall, Vetik, & Berry, 2009; Ward & Masgoret, 2008). In our previous research, we studied mutual attitudes of Muscovites and migrants from the North Caucasus to Moscow, and we found that cultural security predicted tolerance, a preference for integration, and social equality in both groups, but to a lesser extent in Muscovites (Lebedeva & Tatarko, 2009).
A second theoretical proposition is the contact hypothesis. This hypothesis posits that intercultural contact and sharing promote mutual acceptance under certain conditions, especially that of equality (Allport, 1954). In national surveys in Canada, Kalin and Berry (1982) found substantial support for this relationship, especially when status was controlled. Pettigrew and Tropp (2006, 2008) carried out meta-analyses of numerous studies of the contact hypothesis from many countries and in many diverse settings (schools, workplaces, and experiments). Their findings provide general support for the contact hypothesis: intergroup contact does generally relate negatively to prejudice in both dominant and nondominant samples.
A third proposition is the integration hypothesis. This hypothesis proposes that when individuals and groups are "doubly engaged" (in both their heritage cultures and in the larger society) they will be more successful in their lives, including having a sense of personal well-being and sociocultural competence. In much research on intercultural relations and acculturation, the integration strategy has often been found to lead to better adaptation than other strategies (Berry, 1997). A possible explanation is that those who are doubly engaged with both cultures receive support and resources from both and are competent in dealing with both. The social capital afforded by these multiple social and cultural engagements may well offer the route to success in plural societies. The evidence for integration being associated
with better adaptation has been reviewed, and the integration hypothesis is well supported in comparative research (Berry & Sabatier, 2010). Nguyen and Benet-Martínez (2013) carried out a meta-analysis of 83 studies involving over 20,000 participants and found that integration ("biculturalism") has a significant and positive relationship with both psychological adaptation (life satisfaction, positive affect, self-esteem) and sociocultural adaptation (academic achievement, career success, possession of social skills, lack of behavioral problems).
By using these components together and in a balanced way, it should be possible to achieve the core goal of the policy of multiculturalism: the improvement of intercultural relations in multicultural societies. The main goal of our research was testing and evaluating the relevance of these three hypotheses in the Russian and Latvian contexts.
The research hypotheses
1. The multiculturalism hypothesis: The higher one's sense of security, the higher is one's willingness to accept those who are culturally different. Specifically: the higher the perceived security, the higher are support of multicultural ideology and ethnic tolerance (for both the minority group and the members of the larger society).
2. The contact hypothesis: Intercultural contact and sharing promote mutual acceptance (under certain conditions, especially that of equality). Specifically:
2a. The higher the intensity of friendly contacts with the larger society among minority members, the higher are their preference for integration or assimilation strategies and their ethnic tolerance. 2b. The higher the intensity of friendly contacts with immigrants among members of the larger society, the higher are their preference for integration and assimilation, their acculturation expectations, and their ethnic tolerance.
3. The integration hypothesis: Those who prefer the integration strategy have greater psychological and sociocultural adaptation. Specifically:
3a. The higher the preference for the acculturation strategy of integration among minority group members, the higher is their level of life satisfaction and sociocultural adaptation. 3b. The higher the acculturation expectations of integration among members of the larger society, the higher is their level of life satisfaction.
The sample in Russia (Moscow) included 1,029 adult respondents: 651 were Russian Muscovites and 378 were migrants from the North Caucasus and South Caucasus states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia). The sample in Latvia (Riga) included Latvians (N = 363) and ethnic Russians (N = 336). See Table 1 for age and gender statistics.
46 N. M. Lebedeva, A. N. Tatarko, J. W. Berry
Table 1. Sample composition
Groups N Age Gender
M sd Male Female
Russians (Moscow) 651 25.9 13.3 202 449
Ethnic migrants (Moscow) 378 31.2 9.8 175 203
Latvians (Riga) 363 42.6 20.7 49 314
Ethnic Russians (Riga) 336 42.8 21.5 51 285
The study used some scales and items from the project Mutual Intercultural Relations in Plural Societies (http://www.victoria.ac.nz/cacr/research/mirips). The items were translated into Russian and adapted for use in Russia (Lebedeva & Tatarko, 2009, 2013) and were translated into Latvian and adopted for use in Latvia by our colleague I. Plotka. For this research, we used a 5-point scale: 1 — totally disagree; 2 — disagree; 3 — not sure/neutral; 4 — somewhat agree; 5 — totally agree.
Perceived cultural security. This construct assessed the perceived cultural security of the ethnic majority and minorities. The scale included three items (for example, "Learning other languages makes us forget our own cultural traditions").
Intercultural contacts. Intercultural contacts were measured by parallel questions for minority and majority groups. We asked respondents about the number of their close friends and the frequency of their contacts with them. Muscovites were asked about their friends among migrants, and migrants were asked about their friends among Muscovites. This combination of the number and frequency of intercultural contacts is termed "intensity of contacts." We asked only about close friendly contacts because friendly contacts implicitly involve equality, one of the conditions stipulated in the contact hypothesis.
Multicultural ideology. This construct assesses support for multiculturalism as a public policy and practice. It was measured by three items (for example, "A society that has a variety of ethnic and cultural groups is more able to tackle new problems as they occur").
Intercultural strategies of the nondominant population. For the purposes of this research, we used intercultural attitudes only toward integration and assimilation, which are the two strategies that involve a willingness to engage with the larger society. The integration strategy was measured using three items (for example, "It is important to me to be fluent both in [national language] and in [ethnic language]"). The assimilation strategy was measured using three items (for example, "I prefer social activities which involve [ethnic group] only"). These items were used with the migrants and Russians in Riga..
Intercultural expectations of the dominant population. Paralleling the strategies scale used with the nondominant populations, we used only the intercultural expectations of integration and assimilation with the host populations. These are the two expectations that involve a willingness to accept others into the larger society. The integration expectation was measured using three items (for example, "I feel that immigrants should maintain their own cultural traditions but also adopt those of Russians"). The assimilation expectation was measured using 3 items (for example, "It is more important for immigrants to be fluent in Russian (Latvian) than in their own language"). These items were used with the host populations only (Russians in Moscow and Latvians in Riga).
Ethnic tolerance. This scale had four items (for example, "It is good to have people from different ethnic and racial groups living in the same country"). This scale was applied to all four samples.
Sociocultural adaptation. This scale assesses competence in daily intercultural living among nondominant populations (Ward, 1996). Migrants in Moscow (and Russians in Riga) indicated how much difficulty they experienced while living in Moscow in each of 20 areas of daily life. Items were recoded positively.
Life satisfaction. This scale included four items (for example, "In most ways my life is close to my ideal") and was used with all samples.
Demographic variables. In addition to the psychological constructs used for measuring the observed variables, questions asking about respondents' backgrounds, such as gender, age, level of education, were included in the questionnaire. We used these questions with all samples.
We used a "snowball" sampling strategy, asking our friends, acquaintances, and colleagues who were members of various migrant communities to interview their friends and relatives. Then, we asked them to distribute the questionnaire to other friends and acquaintances. The migrant sample contained people who came to study or work in Moscow, their friends, and their parents. The sample of Russians included ethnic Russians who were permanent Moscow residents. The same snowball strategy was used for this sample. Students made up about 66% of the whole sample. The questionnaire took approximately 40 minutes to complete. Because most of the respondents had a relatively high level of education, had lived in Russia for years, and had a good command of the Russian language, the survey was conducted in Russian.
In Riga the snowball technique was used by our Latvian colleagues. They interviewed Latvian and Russian university students first and then asked them to interview their ethnic Latvian and ethnic Russian friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and relatives. For Russians, the survey was conducted in Russian; for Latvians it was conducted in Latvian.
For the testing of our three hypotheses, we used structural equation modeling (SEM) with AMOS version 20. We also used path analysis with AMOS version 19 (Arbuckle, 2010). This instrument allows the evaluation of a series of simultaneous hypotheses, taking measurement errors into account (see Bollen & Pearl, 2013). During the data processing, separate models were constructed for the each of four samples.
We tested all three hypotheses of intercultural relations in the combined models with all four samples using structural equation modeling. The results for the migrants from the Caucasus in Moscow are presented in Figure 1. Assessment of model fit indicates that all the goodness-of-fit indices are exceptionally good (x2 = 683; p < .001; x2 / df= 1.8; CFI = .91; AGFI = .87; RMSEA = .05; PCLOSE = .84).
Figure 1. Results of structural equation modeling for all three hypotheses combined for the migrants in Moscow. * p < .05, ** p < .01, *** p < .001.
Following our hypotheses we can see that perceived security was a significant positive predictor of ethnic tolerance (P = 0.79, p < .001). Ethnic contacts significantly and positively predicted both assimilation (p = 0.17, p < .05) and integration (P = 0.26, p < .001) strategies. The integration strategy in its turn significantly positively predicted the sociocultural adaptation (p = 0.15, p < .05) but not the life satisfaction of the migrants.
Figure 2 shows results of structural equation modeling for all three hypotheses combined for the Russians in Moscow. Assessment of model fit indicates that all the goodness-of-fit indices are satisfactory (%2 = 554; p < .001; x2 / df= 2.3; CFI = .91; AGFI = .91; RMSEA = .05; PCLOSE = .87).
Perceived security was a significant positive predictor of ethnic tolerance (P = 0.50, p < .001) as with the migrants' sample. Ethnic contacts significantly and positively predicted ethnic tolerance (P = 0.10, p < .05) and integration expectation (P = 0.10, p < .05) but did not predict assimilation. Finally, the integration strategy significantly and positively predicted the life satisfaction of the Russians in Moscow (p = 0.10, p < .05).
Figure 2. Results of structural equation modeling for all three hypothesis combined for the Russians in Moscow. * p < .05, ** p < .01, *** p < .001.
figure 3. Results of structural equation modeling for all three hypotheses combined for Russians in Riga. *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001.
For the Latvian case, Figure 3 shows the results of structural equation modeling for all three hypotheses combined for the Russian minority in Riga. The model fit indicates that all the goodness-of-fit indices are satisfactory (x2 = 554; p < .001; X2 / df= 2.3; CFI = .91; AGFI = .91; RMSEA = .05; PCLOSE = .87). Perceived security had no significant effect on either ethnic tolerance or multicultural ideology. Ethnic contacts significantly and positively predicted both the assimilation (^ = 0.26, p < .05) and integration (^ = 0.31, p < .001) strategies. The integration strategy had no statistically significant impact on either the sociocultural adaptation or the life satisfaction of the Russians in Riga.
Figure 4 shows the results of structural equation modeling for all three hypotheses combined for the Latvians in Riga. Assessment of model fit indicates that all the goodness-of-fit indices are exceptionally good (x2 = 472.3; p < .001; x2 /df = 1.8; CFI = .87; AGFI = .88; RMSEA = .05; PCLOSE = .58). Perceived security was a significant positive predictor of both ethnic tolerance (^ = 0.37, p < .01)
R2 = 0.33
Figure 4. Results of structural equation modeling for all three hypotheses combined for the Latvians in Riga. * p < .05, ** p < .01, *** p < .001.
and multicultural ideology (^ = 0.60, p < .001). Ethnic contacts significantly and positively predicted ethnic tolerance (^ = 0.21, p < .05) but did not predict either the integration or the assimilation acculturation expectations. Integration in its turn had no significant impact on life satisfaction, as in the sample of the Russians in Riga.
In our study, we tested mutual intercultural attitudes of the migrants/ethnic minority and the dominant population in Russia and Latvia, using the three hypotheses of intercultural relations: multiculturalism, contact, and integration.
According to the first hypothesis (multiculturalism) the higher the perceived security, the higher are the support of multicultural ideology and ethnic tolerance (for both the minority group and the members of the larger society). For
both samples in Moscow we found that higher perceived security predicted higher levels of ethnic tolerance. For the two samples in Riga, we see the same pattern for both the dominant and the Russian minority groups, but the coefficients are significant only for the dominant group. However, only in the sample of Latvians does perceived security have a significant impact on support for multicultural ideology. Thus the results of the study fully support the multiculturalism hypothesis for the Latvians in Riga and partially support it for the migrants and the dominant group in Moscow and do not support it for the Russian minority in Riga.
The contact hypothesis posits the positive impact of friendly intercultural contacts on acceptance of "cultural others." For the migrants from the Caucasus, having frequent friendly contacts among the Moscow population positively and significantly affected their acculturation strategies of integration and assimilation, just as they did for the Russians in Riga. For the Russian Muscovites, having friends among migrants and a high frequency of contact with them positively and significantly affected their acculturation expectation of integration. With respect to tolerance, for the migrants in Moscow, the impact of their contacts with Muscovites on their ethnic tolerance was negative and not significant. However, for the Russian Muscovites and for the Latvians in Riga, their intercultural contacts positively and significantly predicted their level of ethnic tolerance. So the contact hypothesis is partially confirmed with all four groups. We have two different patterns in these relationships: in the nondominant groups intercultural contacts positively predicted their integration and assimilation, but not their ethnic tolerance; however, in the dominant groups of Russian Muscovites and Latvians in Riga intercultural contacts contributed primarily to their level of ethnic tolerance.
According to the integration hypothesis, preference for the integration strategy promotes better psychological and sociocultural adaptation. Consistent with the hypothesis, a preference for the integration strategy among the migrants in Moscow had a positive impact on their sociocultural adaptation; however, the relationship with life satisfaction, while positive, was not significant. In the Muscovites, a preference for the integration expectation had a positive significant impact on their life satisfaction. In both groups in Riga we saw no significant impacts of the integration preference on the indicators of sociocultural and psychological adaptation. Thus, we can conclude that the minorities' preference for the strategy of integration indeed contributed to their sociocultural adaptation to living in Moscow but not significantly to their sociocultural adaptation in Riga, and it did not contribute to their life satisfaction there. As for the majority groups, the preference for integration among the Russians in Moscow promoted their life satisfaction, but it did not promote such satisfaction for the Latvians in Riga. Therefore, the integration hypothesis was partially supported in both groups in Moscow (the migrants and the host population), but it was not supported in both groups in Latvia (the Russian minority and the ethnic Latvians).
Thus, all three hypotheses received partial support in Moscow, but the mul-ticulturalism hypothesis was not confirmed with the Russians in Latvia, and the integration hypothesis was not supported with the Latvian Russians and Latvians in Riga.
The most important question is why the integration hypothesis did not receive support in Latvia. To answer it we decided to analyze some relationships among the main predictors in the models. First, a preference for integration was positively related to multicultural ideology, while the opposite relationship existed for assimilation in both groups in Moscow and in the Latvians in Riga. This pattern shows the different nature of these two acculturation strategies. However, we found positive and significant relationships between assimilation and multicultural ideology among the Russians in Latvia. Both findings require additional analysis of the sociopolitical and historical context in Latvia in order to understand the psychological outcomes of mutual acculturation of the minority and majority groups. Some parallels in previous research on intercultural relations in Estonia might shed light on our results. In Berry's (1997) terms, the Estonian formulation of integration policy incorporates only the participation dimension; the cultural-maintenance dimension is not supported. Thus, the political terminology of integration is much closer to the acculturative expectation of assimilation. The ethnically connoted nation-state model equates integration with forced assimilation, and as the majority of Estonian Russians do not wish to assimilate, integration for them means "something to avoid." Therefore, the term integration itself has a negative meaning among ethnic Russians there (Kruusvall et al., 2009). Similarly, we described the Latvian context and policy as promoting assimilation more than integration, despite the opposite wording. This policy might explain why integration did not predict any positive outcomes for either of the groups in Latvia. The positive relationships of multicultural ideology with assimilation and the negative relationships of multicultural ideology with integration also support this thesis.
Second, perceived security and intercultural contacts were not related to each other in Moscow but had a significant negative relationship in Riga. In other words, to have friendly intercultural contacts in Moscow a person need not feel secure. However, in Riga there are significant negative relationships between security and contact; intercultural contacts there may make Russians and Latvians feel less secure. However, it could be vice versa: low security impedes intercultural contact. Either way, this negative relationship tells us that these two groups are almost isolated from each other and avoid intercultural contacts to reduce their sense of insecurity.
The core question is whether intercultural contacts between Latvians and Russians are a threat to their security. Are there positive consequences of frequent friendly contacts? Of course there are. Russians contribute to the integration and assimilation in the society of Latvia, and Latvians promote ethnic tolerance. Thus, we see the main directions for national integration in Latvia: to facilitate friendly intercultural contacts between Latvian and Russians, while at the same time providing a sense of cultural security (and reducing a sense of threat) in both groups. This is the real meaning of multicultural ideology and of a multicultural policy.
There are some limitations to our study. The first limitation concerns the samples and reduces the generalizability of the findings: they are not representative for Russia as well as for Latvia because data were collected only in Moscow and
Riga. The second limitation concerns the snowball sampling technique, in which respondents were recruited from a narrow circle of friends and acquaintances. To overcome these limitations, we plan to test these three hypotheses in other regions of Russia and in neighboring countries to compare the findings in different socio-cultural contexts. This approach should allow us to assess the general character of these hypotheses, as well to identify some cultural specifics.
Our research tested the three hypotheses of multicultural relations in dominant and nondominant groups in Russia and Latvia and let us come to the following conclusions:
For the multiculturalism hypothesis, perceived security promoted tolerance toward other cultural groups in three of the samples (the migrants in Moscow, the Russian Muscovites, and the Latvians) and promoted both tolerance and support for multicultural ideology in the Latvians. No significant relationships of these factors were found among the Latvian Russians.
For the contact hypothesis, intercultural contacts promoted mutual acceptance: a preference for integration and assimilation strategies among the migrants in Moscow and the Russian minority in Riga, a preference for the integration expectation in the Russian Muscovites, and ethnic tolerance among the Latvians in Riga.
For the integration hypothesis, a preference for integration among the migrants in Moscow promoted their better sociocultural adaptation but had no impact on the Latvian Russians. The preference for the integration expectation had a significant impact on the life satisfaction of the Muscovites but had no effect on the Latvians in Riga.
Thus, all three hypotheses received partial support from the migrants and the dominant group in Moscow, but the multiculturalism hypothesis was not confirmed with the Russians in Riga, and the integration hypothesis was not supported by the Latvians or the Russians in Riga.
In general, we believe that the key conditions for positive intercultural relations are the presence of a sense of security, friendly intercultural contacts, and the acceptance of multiculturalism in the larger society, both in public attitudes and in public policy.
This work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (Project No. 15-1800029). The authors appreciate the help of Professor Irina Plotka and Dr. Tatiana Kanonire in gathering data and providing details of the sociocultural context in Latvia.
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Original manuscript received November 07, 2015 Revised manuscript accepted December 26, 2015 First published online March 30, 2016