components of the modern migration crisis
(Credit: ktsdesign/ (via:


The authors propose an interdisciplinary approach to analysing the anthropological, cultural, and socioeconomic factors influencing the phenomenon of migration in modern times. An anthropological background of the postmodern era is characterised by a close resemblance of modern personal consciousness to a primordial mental state. Predominance of a visual culture over a reflexive one, elimination of borders, and degradation of values dictate archaic models of modern personal behaviour and perceptions (as identified based on the ‘friend–foe’ principle, perceptions of ‘the other’ as someone dangerous, and unreasonable trust in communitarian practices and networks).

In this context, all aspects of the migration process are equally affected by the crisis of liminal situations. The rise of extremism and fundamentalism is equally characteristic of migrants and the local population. The inevitability of intercultural conflict is emphasised in mass media, contributing to a public sense of global posttraumatic stress disorder. The cross-civilisational paradigm of modernity, viewed as the dominance of ‘neo-colonialism’, is a specific trait of the postmodern era. This postmodern ideology pays little attention to the anthropological content of socioeconomic processes, rejecting the ‘project’ of an individual and concrete values of humanity.

In this paper, we conduct a historical and civilisational analysis of modern-era (i.e., 20th-century) attitudes towards the creation of a supranational paradigm. The experience of Soviet modernity, using the example of Central Asia, reveals it to be the project of a ‘new individual’ with special attention to education and the formation of values that allowed for successful implementation of the project of a ‘new world’. This research suggests possible approaches to harmonising migration policy. It is important to level structural differences and bridge the cultural gap between the local population and immigrants.


Chapter 1. Anthropological aspects of cross-cultural and cross-civilisational processes.

 Migration processes in the context of modern challenges

Migration processes have been at the centre of several cultural and civilisational crashes:

  1. Annihilation of the notion of ‘borders’ as a principle of economic, political, informational, and civilisational development in the modern world (i.e., globalisation and mondialisation). In a certain sense, globalism can be categorised as a logical continuation of the West (Europe) civilisational project and partially as a reminiscence of the Christian project paradigm regarding the world as a single universe (καθολικὴ Ἐκκλησία, οἰκουμένη). In this context, it is worth noting the expanding ambitions of the Islamic world driven by the idea of establishing the Truth universally.

Omitting a discussion of economic and cultural advantages of globalisation processes and avoiding an accusatory position, the removal of borders is an important anthropological factor in the globalisation phenomenon. As Badie (1996) contended, “Mondialisation breaks up sovereignties, goes all the way through national territories, mistreats communities, tears up social contracts, and makes international security concepts redundant. Sovereignty is not an undebatable fundamental value any more, and the idea of interference is slowly but steadily changing its meaning” (p. 3).

  1. Annihilating traditional borders is not equal to creating a homogeneous space. According to de Benoist (2012), the modern global world is a world of networks in the first place: “Networks are mobile or ‘fluid’ by nature. Being fast and interconnected, they lack transparency… Networks create a new type of social relations that can be characterized as ‘fractal’. Creating connections between people living very far from each other based on common goals, interests or opinions, networks form super-national identities” (p. 155). He also explained why attempts to recreate world stability through previous models have been inconsistent: “In this perspective, we have to avoid a number of mistakes. One of them is that mondialisation can be avoided through shutting oneself off from the world and supporting one’s identity strictly in the ethnocentric sense. ‘Bunker logic’ is of no use today, because we live in the world, where everything supports and reflects each other” (de Benoist, 2012, p. 156).

Network communities cannot be institutionalised because of their nature. As they acquire the status of institution, they lose their flexibility and ‘community nature’[1]. Thus, it is evident that institutional forms of affecting network processes are unproductive. Turner (1991) referred to Van Gennep`s (1909) work Rites de passage, writing that the notions of ‘rituals that accompany every change of place, state, social position, and age’ can be extended to the broad range of social phenomena, typical to modernity in social anthropology. He noted that the situation of transition and a ‘liminal time period’ can give rise to the “model of a nonstructural or rudimentary society and relatively undifferentiated comitatus, community or even communion of equal individuals subordinating to the supreme authority of ritual elders” (Turner, 1974, p. 83). Transitivity, erosion of borders, and the liminal conditions of an individual are qualities that suddenly unite the modern age with the archaic world.

  1. From an economics perspective, home and host countries have varying interests when it comes to migration. Developed countries are interested in the inflow of migrants because it helps to mitigate the consequences of demographic decline, population aging, and labour shortages in entire branches of the national economy. In developed countries, migrants fill empty positions in low-skilled, low-paying job sectors as well as in highly qualified and (primarily tech-related) labour markets. By contrast, developing countries are interested in migration as a source of income in the form of remittances. For example, in 2016, migrant workers transferred $575 billion to their countries of citizenship (Yamikov, 2018a).

At first glance, economic migration poses no critical challenges to either donor countries or host countries. Along the lines of the market universalism idea that replaces the theory of a ‘social contract’ and prioritises the economic sphere over the political one, natural processes of social transformation should lead to balance and homogeneity. Generally, this premise forms the foundation of migration policy in developed countries, where economic mechanisms control the process of integrating labour migrants into the life of society. At the same time, it is presumed that migrants undoubtedly want to acquire not only citizenship but also a civic and cultural identity in their new home country.

  1. “Repressive regimes in the Middle East, the civil wars in Libya and Syria, actions of terrorist groups, and conflicts across parts of Africa and South Asia constitute a series of large-scale catastrophes that have provoked one of the most serious refugee crises since World War Two. According to data from UNHCR, in early 2016, the number of forced migrants in the world exceeded 65 million (Malakhov, 2016).

Notably, forced crisis migration differs substantially from labour migration. Victims of military conflict and social upheaval are subject to various psychological frustrations (certainly we assume they are receiving necessary psychological aid), and their refusal to live in their country of origin is involuntary. Thus, the refugee mindset may lack a loyalty to the culture and civic norms of the receiving country. To summarise the abovementioned tendencies, we conclude that in the context of neutralising borders as well as moral and civic values, the phenomenon of migration is yet another factor that complicates the world of the individual and greater culture; however, receiving countries may face different risks when encountering migration-related challenges.

Most migrants in the world are so-called ‘economic migrants’: people who have changed their place of residence to earn a better living. Economic migration has a clear pattern: as a rule, countries of origin are politically unstable states in the global ‘South’ with low standards of living. In 2017, migrants from outside Europe accounted for 10% of the European population, while two-thirds of all migrants in the world live among 20 developed countries. According to the UN, the top three destination countries for migrants are the United States, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. The US has the most immigrants in the world by far, at 49.8 million, and Germany and Saudi Arabia are each home to 12.2 million. The Russian Federation takes fourth place with 11.7 million immigrants. For nearly 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union (from 1991 to 2005), Russia ranked second in the world in the number of immigrants according to the UN (Yakimov, 2018a).

At the same time, Europe is going through a major migration crisis exacerbated by escalating social protests and extremist tendencies. In essence, having failed to formulate an exact definition of a ‘European identity’, Europe is facing a new wave of social and civic uncertainty following from migration processes. Alma (2017) stated, “… values have been neglected in the project of integration and … this partly explains the difficulty of sustaining a vision of European citizenship” (para. 6). Despite de Benoist’s (2012) warning, growing ethnocentric tendencies suggest that Europe can be rescued from mondialisation and its challenges by going back to the ‘bunker’.

Anthropological situation of modernity: Individuals in a world without borders

The concept of an ‘open society’ based on Bergson’s and Popper’s work was definitely considered ideal in the 20th century as opposed to ‘closed’ societies intertwined with traditions of the past and ‘totalitarian’ models. Fukuyama’s (1992) famously optimistic remark about the fact that “liberal democracy … is free from fundamental internal contradictions” (p. xi) lies in the same paradigm of understanding the social as the rational, individual, natural component.

In the interpretation of Soviet philosopher Merab Mamardashvili, via denying the principles of Descartes (the person as the source of thought and action) and Kant (the person as a moral being), Western civilisation creates ‘zombie’ situations that seem humanlike but in fact simply imitate humanism: “Their product, unlike Homo sapiens, (i.e. who knows good and evil), is ‘a strange person’, ‘an indescribable person’” (Mamardashvili, 1992, p. 107). Mamardashvili also described the concept of ‘uncertainty’ thusly: “Abnormal symbolic space is absorbing everything it touches. Human consciousness is annihilating and in the situation of uncertainty, where everything is not just ambiguous, but has multiple meanings, the individual is annihilating too: no courage, no honor, no dignity, no cowardice, no dishonor” (p. 121). As Giddens (1999) pointed out, a change in the social paradigm from traditional models connected with the past to openness towards the future is one of the factors that enhances a feeling of fear.

Liminality as an element of cross-cultural and cross-civilisational processes

Per Van Gennep’s (1909) Rites de passage, ‘rituals that accompany every change of place, state, social position and age’ extended to the whole spectrum of social phenomena, intrinsic to modernity, in the social anthropology of the 20th century. Turner (1991) focused on the phenomenon of liminality related to the process of transitioning from one cultural or social state to another. He remarked that transitional states are closely connected with uncertainty and instability: “liminal beings are neither here nor there, neither one thing nor another; they are between the positions, prescribed and distributed by law, custom, conventions, and ceremonial” (Turner, 1991). Many features of liminality work well in the context of intercultural contact; Turner and Douglas (1984) each made the point that the social environment responds to liminal individuals as it does to danger. Negative identity assemblage points often appear as a response to this uncertainty: extremist and nationalist models (such as the ideas of ‘pure race’) try to remove the phenomena of uncertainty in culture by eliminating otherness. As Douglas (1984) remarked, “the ultimate paradox of the quest for purity is that this is an attempt to forcefully squeeze the experience into logical categories of non-ambiguity.”

In Turner’s (1991) analysis, liminal beings are passive by their social nature; they are just waiting for the restoration of social or cultural boundaries. However, because their values are not defined, they expect regulations, values, and their future social roles from spiritual leaders. In this particular period, social messages and rituals sacralise as ‘sacred text’, preparing the initiated to acquire a new status. Thus, in contrast to blurred national and cultural orientations, the role of religion as a uniting factor and steady means of identification (Bilgrami, 1992; Roy, 2006) has grown out of the erosion of cultural traditions.

Interestingly, only transition and a ‘liminal time period’ give rise to the “model of a nonstructural or rudimentary society and relatively undifferentiated comitatus, community or even communion of equal individuals subordinating to the supreme authority of ritual elders” (Turner, 1991). Abashin’s (2017) observation is highly accurate: “Migrants are not radicalized alone, but through and with social networks. The internet plays a big role; recruitment is relational rather than done in isolation” (para. 11). Today, social networks imitate the exact characteristics of ‘communitas’. Summing up the analysis of cross-cultural and cross-civilisational processes in light of social anthropology, one can see that despite being intrinsically ‘harmless’, the mechanisms of liminality are unconsciously loaded with negative connotations on the part of traditional social structures and are quite consciously used by extremist communities.

 Liminal processes of modernity as mirror reflections

So far, we have discussed liminality as a model when something new (migrants) comes to the territory of the traditional and well-established (host culture). However, does this model exist in reality? As a rule, Western European migration policy practices formally demonstrate adhesion to this model. To receive economic benefits, a migrant should show signs of agreement with social and cultural models of the host country (e.g., attend meetings for migrants, participate in social inclusion practices, etc.). In other words, migrants must at least formally assert themselves as full members of a new social structure. From the viewpoint of liminality, the process of transition is completed when the liminal person acquires distinctness. However, under the circumstances of erosion of traditional values, the space of new culture and new social life itself turns out to be equally, if not more, uncertain for the initiated person than the cultural model he had to abandon. It means that currently, as a carrier of certainty and stability (even in categories of the past), the liminal person will treat his new European homeland as liminally uncertain and thus hostile. Consequently, we can reframe the model of liminality and reveal completely different content within it.

Andrey Yakimov, a researcher of migration processes from St. Petersburg, has offered an interesting perspective on this issue. He considers everyone migrants to a certain extent in light of 20th-century history (Yakimov, 2018b). In fact, it is not the individual who changes borders, but borders that divide the individual beyond his will. Additionally, there is one more category of modern ‘migrants’: young people. Scientific communities have recently been discussing social and psychological qualities of youth, including the well-known term ‘digital natives’ (Prensky, 2001). On one hand, modern youth is much more liberal in terms of cultural and social boundaries; they actively take advantage of the potential for economic growth provided by globalisation. On the other hand, as Walsh (2013) remarked, these are the people “who were born in the age that is completely immersed in and dependent on technological process”, hence why “they fully rely on technological items in completing everyday tasks for their personal benefit.” With complete trust in ‘free internet’, they possess hardly any significant cultural competence because they perceive the world globally. Here we can speak of risk groups: those young people for whom the uncertainty of personal existence becomes traumatic.

St. Petersburg Teacher Training University in Russia conducted social research to determine why ethnic Russian youth convert to Islam. Results showed that one of the fundamental motives for conversion was the attainment of certainty, which neither traditional religion (Orthodoxy) nor the cultural and family environment could give them. Several European studies have revealed that social media posts from young people demonstrating feelings of loss (frustration) and uselessness were targeted for further recruitment by extremist associations. Thus, it is clear that liminality, as a non-cultural worldview, is in fact a universal problem of modernity.

 Social origins and psychology of fundamentalist and nationalist extremism

When we speak of the quality of human subjectivity as striving for boundless self-unfolding, as a rule, we set aside the concept of purpose. However, no process can be characterised as development or becoming in the absence of a specific purpose and meaning. Even if a person has no specific goal to achieve, he or she still wants to be noticed by others or otherwise recognised for his or her presence. In his work Meaning in MEANING-less Time, Hubner (2006) offered an extremely subtle and precise observation on the distinct perception of a postmodern individual: “… the meaning is in the action itself, action for the sake of action. … The thrill of action can withdraw nothingness and void in the soul for a moment. … The action must be seen, the cry must be heard. Other people should perceive this action as witnesses, which will indirectly draw attention to the criminal. With the help of other people, sensationalism of the action proves to the criminal that he exists” (p. 138–139).

Hubner’s (2006) comment resonates with a current understanding of the phenomena of selfies, video-bloggers, and so on. The need to identify personal subjectivity has become universal as a protest against the loss of personal identity and values. Being noticed by society is a non-axiological tendency of modern times. In regard to cross-cultural and cross-civilisational processes, the same desire to be noticed can push liminal groups and individuals towards aggressive social acts. The more attention mass media and social networks pay to these fallouts from normal ‘humanness’, the greater feedback the criminal receives: suddenly he or she becomes not a liminal and not even a marginal person, but a ‘hero’ or a ‘star’, even if with negative connotations.

It should be noted here that a crime holds dual meaning for the actor performing extremist activity. In one sense, it introduces meaning, albeit negative, to a neutral reality and simultaneously establishes the actor as the subject of the event; thus, the origins of extremism are deeply rooted in the loss of existential values as well as in the passive and anti-social status of the subject-source of criminal activity. Emil Panin, Director of the Research Center on Xenophobia and Extremism Prevention at the Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Science, claimed that extremism is neither directly related to a low level of economic and cultural development nor to specific religious factors. “Closed stagnant societies, for example, Bushmen in South Africa or Mayans in Mexico with very low levels of economic and social development have nothing similar to political extremism or terrorism. At the same time, these phenomena appear in societies that embark on the course of transformation. They unfold in marginal social layers characterized by a bizarre combination of traditional and newly established cultural features as well as incomplete change of status and living conditions” (Panin, 2002, p. 114).

The key point here concerns transitional stages of transformation. This phenomenon will equally affect societies on the verge of historical change to traditions as well as societies moving along the path of revolutionary modernisation. Crises of cultural and social identities give rise to phenomena that can further transform into extremism: “the interest of people to consolidate in primitive, natural, or so-called ‘primordial’ communities (ethnical and confessional) revives; xenophobia manifestations intensify; the influence of ideology of traditionalism often escalating into fundamentalism (the idea of ‘purification from the new and return to the origins’) increases” (Painin, 2002, p.115)

Essentially, these are protection mechanisms deeply rooted in the culture itself. However, under the circumstances of a devaluating ontological (intrinsic) status of the culture, such mechanisms become reduced and distilled from the very content of culture.   Neo-fundamentalism, as ‘purification’ of religion from cultural and historical layering, reveals itself in all major world religions. The person who has lost his or her cultural identity often seeks refuge in communities where religiosity is free from tradition as well as critical thinking. As Roy (2006) noted, “all religious revival movements at the end of the 20th century feature intellectualism, which fostered more emotional religiosity, linked with individualism and intellectual authority crises.”

The search for a new identity has led to the emergence of communities and religious systems that legitimise humans’ inability for positive social identification based on national culture. The difference between new religious systems and traditional ones is quite significant. The symbolic space of traditional culture possesses many barriers in descriptions of boundaries, oral traditions, developed behavioural mechanisms, and a particular spectrum of paths to spiritual development. New religious communities and systems formed under the influence of Westernisation and globalisation virtually separate religion from culture, resulting in hybrid phenomena that lack the natural mechanisms intrinsic to spiritual practices.


Modernity presents humanity with several distinctive problems that influence generally sustainable and developed societies as well as societies in the process of traditional paradigm change or fast-paced modernisation. Although the characteristics of transformational processes differ, they are united by common anthropological types of individual reactions to circumstances of anxiety, uncertainty, and loss of existential balance. In this context, we can deduce a general typology of negative compensation models of mondialisation ‘traumas’ to which individuals are subjected. These models attempt to recreate meaning by establishing negative meaning. They also demand a fixed existential place of the subject (e.g., publicly recognised crime), misplaced reliance on network and communitarian forms of communication, and the manifestation of religious forms removed from cultural and national specificity.

Large-scale migration over the last decades uniquely exemplifies these tendencies; however, migration is also the most visible and tangible case, as it involves a broad spectrum of geopolitical, social, political, and economic processes. Returning to the features of civilisation specified by Mamardashvili (1992), the problem of a civilisational continuum extends beyond the neutralisation of borders or consolidation of traditional meaning; civilisational development implies preservation of ‘backup patterns of thinking’ that, in the situation of estranging oneself from ‘meanings’ during the transformation of borders, facilitates unity of a systematic and worldview nature rather than a linear one so that “a human condition that began at moment A, could remain a human condition” (p. 118). 


Chapter 2. Historical aspects and conceptual foundations of cross-cultural and cross-civilisational processes.

The world without borders as hybridity: Anthropological projects of colonialism, modernity, and postmodernity

At the end of the 1960s, the prospect of constructing a world without borders and creating an individual as a universal enlightened being took shape through public student protests in France and became another liberal project of intellectuals later named ‘the first postindustrial revolution’. Alexander Shubin, head of the Center on the History of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus at the Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Science, described the moment vividly: “Red and black banners were flying over the barricades, one could see the portraits of Lenin (a shocking symbol of revolution and quality changes), Che Guevara (a sex symbol of revolutionary dedication), Bakunin (a symbol of riot), and Kropotkin (a symbol of free and unanimous utopia). ‘Strange’ slogans appeared on the walls: ‘Be realists – demand the impossible!’, ‘All power to imagination!’, ‘You can’t love the GDP growth’, ‘Under the pavement – the beach’, etc.” (Shubin, 2018). This historic moment served as a starting point of the intellectual and humanitarian interpretation of globalisation driven by economic, technological, and cross-civilisational processes. It can even be regarded as a starting point for attempts to create another new world and another new individual after having failed similar projects during the modernism age. The need to specify an anthropological foundation of the postmodernity project, which is aligned (conceptually and time-wise) with the liberalism of the second half of the 20th century, leads to an analysis of historic developments that provided a rationale for a new anthropological and geopolitical plan.

The term ‘mondialism’ was coined by Harry Davis in 1949 to denote the fundamental concept of ‘global citizenship’ with no national, cultural, or state borders. In 1990s, mondialisation as a project of a homogenous world was conceptualised in the models of ‘the end of history’, a ‘unipolar world’, and ‘sustainable development’. In particular, mondalism is outlined in an essay (1989) and later the famous book by Fukuyama (1992) and in an interesting work by Giorgio Agamben (1993), The Coming Community.

These ideas are in line with Popper’s (1945) project “The Open Society and Its Enemies” as well as with earlier versions of the liberal theory, such as in Mill’s (2001) essay “On Liberty”, which proved the existence of a conventional parallel between individual interests and state control over the concept of evolutionary perfection of moral and public norms in a civilized world: “There has been a time when the element of spontaneity and individuality was in excess, and the social principle had a hard struggle with it. …” (p. 57). Notably, the division into ‘civilised’ and ‘barbarian’ worlds was completely natural in Mill’s discourse of the colonial era.

Many scholars have pointed out that modern forms of cross-cultural and cross-civilisational processes can be considered reminiscent of colonial practices and ideology: “The epoch of colonisation profoundly affected the development of modern phenomena of the 20th century including imperialism, neocolonialism, and globalisation processes… If the principles of neocolonialism indirect influence dominate in the global political and economic space, then the principles of internal colonialism dominate in the domestic political space of certain states” (Kuzmenko, 2010). The key concepts of colonial law demonstrate a connection between colonialism and liberal ideology: “the terra nullius principle (literally ‘no one’s land’); the idea of ‘Eastern despotism’; the concepts of proper government over the indigenous population in the colonies and defects in international legal status of non-European societies” (Ruvinsky, 2011). Colonial processes are primarily of interest as one of the first anthropological models of cross-cultural and cross-civilisational collisions.

The Subaltern Studies group (Guha, 1982) and scholars who applied Derrida’s de-constructivist approach in postcolonial studies (Bhabha, 1994; Spivak, 1999) have performed interesting research.  Bhabha used the notion of hybridity to denote certain cultural phenomena emerging at the interface of colonial (i.e., European and global) and local traditions. ‘Hybridity’ is a synthesis of colonial (empire) and national cultural traditions. Such synthesis can include cooperation patterns as well as antagonism based on a mutual incongruity of cultures. Bhabha further noted that the postcolonial cultural state generally characterises a contemporary culture composed of various aspects. A member of a hybrid culture is in a state of antinomic stress and uncertainty. To capture this phenomenon, Bhabha employed the terms ‘unhomeliness’, ‘being in the beyond’, and ‘in the liminal space’. Being in the liminal space between cultures without belonging to any of them is a certain trauma of the postcolonial subject. Inevitably, postcolonial space becomes a medium where worldviews, behaviour models, and cultural norms collide. It results in the emergence of ‘mimicry’ or an imitation phenomenon intended to ‘remove’ visible conflicts from the dominant culture. Interestingly, in Gumilev’s ethnological theory, such a relationship between cultures is called ‘chimera’ and inevitably leads to the collapse of a society or civilisation.

Fanon (1967) also wrote about the specific nature of the hybrid identity, stating that “indigenous people of colonies had to perceive themselves simultaneously ‘internally’ and ‘externally’, through the eyes of the colonisers. Such self-alienation manifested primarily at the level of language that ‘aborigines’ utilised to talk about themselves” (Kulikin, 2013).___

Experience and ‘ideology’ of Soviet modernity in the Central Asia republics: The project of modernity as a model of incorporating national identity into the civic identity of a ‘Soviet individual’

The project of modernity in the 20th century was implemented in the West, Asia, and Africa in various formats and contexts. However, common basic premises of the ideology included confidence in the progress-oriented development of humanity and the feasibility of introducing harmonising forms of social-economic existence, thereby giving birth to a ‘new individual’. Each project of modernity included several intrinsic contradictions; even so, many states in the 20th century acquired basic conditions for further development. After the collapse of the USSR, many former Soviet republics and former socialist countries in the Asian and African regions lost ideological vectors of the past. Some of these countries, which managed to reach a new level of development over several decades of the 20th century, have since plunged into a state of permanent crisis and regression (e.g., Libya and Syria).

Interestingly, before the destruction of Libyan statehood by military operations, Libya possessed its own anthropological social and cultural identity. It was based on the synthesis of a historic form of regional Islam and a certain type of socialist relations –  an Arab project related to social and political transformation within the modernist framework. A distinctive feature of these models was their intrinsic pan-Arabism. Following other socialist states, such countries adopted a two-level system of management and control. The Green Book of Libya established a special type of government, Jamahiriya, founded in 1977, when a widespread ‘people’s democracy’ (i.e., different levels of people’s congresses) coexisted with a network of revolutionary committees acting as ideology-controlling authorities. Being legal, Islam continued to play an important role in Libya. “The Green Book underscores the importance of religion for the nation” (The Green Book, 1976).

Arab countries’ inclination towards socialism was a reflection of the European colonial system and the result of the development of Soviet and other moderately religious thought patterns, contextually defined by European and Russian (Soviet) social-political ideas. Jamahiriya implied the incorporation of all basic principles of modernity: a fundamental project of the future, creation of a unified national Libyan identity, universal education, and industrial and social-economic development (Vilkov, 2015).

The case of establishing modernity in Central Asia demonstrates that modernity can result in tangible social-economic changes including a new anthropological vision, new values, and new cross-national relations. A characteristic feature of Soviet modernity was the concept of a civic identity uniting distinct national identities. The notion of ‘Soviet people’ was based on a value system and social settings as opposed to ethnic and religious factors, which conceivably contributed to the relatively conflict-free development of republics in Central Asia.

Special consideration should be given to the demonstrably positive attitude of the population in the Central Asian republics in the post-Soviet era towards multiple processes from 1917 to 1991. Positive attitudes towards such complex and ambivalent individuals as Lenin and Stalin are especially noteworthy here. In Kirgizia, 61% of respondents indicated a positive attitude towards Stalin in addition to 57% in Tadzhikistan  and 53% in Uzbekistan (Eurasian Monitor, 2009). Indeed, regional repression in the early stages of the USSR was on a lesser scale compared with the rest of the state. At the same time, the population recognised and appreciated the results of regional development during the Soviet period until the 1980s.

American scholar David L. Hoffmann noted that Soviet studies of ethnic and cultural characteristics of peoples in Central Asia have been performed with the goal of making those peoples participate in and support revolutionary changes as opposed to establishing their inequality (as it used to be within the framework of European colonial policy). According to Hoffmann (2011), Soviet national policy was characterised by ‘state evolutionism’ – an approach based on the Marxist concept of historic stages as well as on the European anthropological theories of cultural evolution, assuming that all ethnic groups pursue one general terminal point.

The Soviet modernity concept as the project of a ‘new individual’

The concept of modernity came to Central Asia after the civil war in the early 1920s. In general, Soviet modernity corresponded to the basic premise of modernity per se: faith in progress and instrumentalism related to the belief in the power of scientific knowledge as a means of cognising and changing the world. An important characteristic of modernist society is the ideology based on a rational interpretation of economic, political, and social processes. The ideology of modernity was meant to preserve the existing order without using direct practices of public enforcement. One can say that the inclusion of economic components in this ideology is key in helping to understand social-economic processes of the 20th century. This principle developed in the West based on the notion of private property and a new understanding of commercial production. Althusser (2001) harshly stated that “All Ideological State Apparatuses, whatever they are, contribute to the same result: the reproduction of the relations of production, i.e. of capitalist relations of exploitation” (p. 104). Thus, the discourse of socialism was always present in the fabric of Western civilisation in the industrial age as a means of understanding the unfolding processes.

Wallerstein (1995) has often posited that it would be more appropriate to discuss one ideology in the age of modernity, namely liberalism in the broader sense, as opposed to three ideologies: liberalism, socialism, and conservatism. He emphasised that Lenin, as well as all Soviet political elite after him, had to change the concept of a revolutionary overthrow of government by the working class to a programme of national liberation with the goal of national development (on a socialist foundation). Soviet modernity captures the development of a state based on interpreting the ideas of Enlightenment on anti-capitalistic, Marxist, and anti-religious foundations within a system of transformations in Russian culture. In doing so, Russian culture served as a reference point for the development of all national cultures in the USSR. The goal of Soviet modernity was to establish a communist, forefront, science-based society, where the notion of a ‘Soviet individual’ would be a ‘new anthropological principle’. To a certain extent, projects of modernity can also be interpreted as the creation of a super-man, as this very image reflects the idea of ‘the new individual’ of the epoch.

The new culture is “future-oriented, there is no turning back”, proclaimed narkom (the people’s commissar) Lunacharsky in the end of his first address to the people. The culture is breaking its ties to the past and refusing from the legacy of the past” (Paperny, 1996). Malevich’s famous phrase, “build the creativity burning your way behind you”, is also characteristic of the innovative pathos of modernity. A ‘new supranational identity’ was meant to rid the Soviet project of cross-cultural controversy, the working class, and the peasantry being united by a common social-economic foundation. However, it should be noted that it was the project of a ‘new individual’ that allowed the USSR to construct a new reality with specific features. Gorky (1933) wrote, “A new person is growing in the Soviet Union and we can flawlessly define his main quality. …  He feels a creator of a new world and although he still lives in hard conditions, he knows that to create new conditions is his goal and the act of his rational will that is why he has no grounds to be a pessimist. He is young not just biologically, but also historically. He is the power that has just understood its way, its significance in history, and he performs his duty of cultural construction with the courage of young but inexperienced force directed by a simple and clear doctrine” (p. 161).

In the 1920s and 1930s, a new unique pedagogical theory and practice called ‘pedology’ was developed in the Soviet Union, which aimed to unify biological and ethical factors in the name of bringing up a new person. In 1915, A. N. Nechaev, a theoretician of pedology, wrote, “Defining the ultimate goal of upbringing we should consider not just a personality, but an ethically valuable personality. It is naïve to think that such [an] ethically valuable personality will appear only in case you don’t interfere with its ‘free’ development”. Thus, Soviet pedagogy tried to develop a highly rigid framework for upbringing, denying spontaneous personal development. At the same time, heavy emphasis was placed on intensive self-reflection and internal development of the Soviet individual. “Soviet publications convinced people to check their knowledge, increase the level of culture and ‘improve themselves’. To make the citizens think over their lives and understand their role in the construction of socialism, the Soviet power encouraged and sometimes even forced them to write and voice their autobiographies” (Hoffman, 2011, p. 194).

Within the framework of pedology, Soviet pedagogical practices diverged slightly from interpreting the upbringing processes from a perspective of economy and class. Thus, in 1934, Nadezhda Krupskaya defined culture and education as the basic components for the formation of a new individual. “The thing is in arming all coming generations with true knowledge, the Issue is in bringing up all oncoming generations as communists. It is a huge colossal task. Thus, general education has particularly great importance.” In 1936, the decree of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of the Bolsheviks of July 4 abolished pedology because it is “based on false-science anti-Marxist premises” (Zaki, n. d.). In doing so, they failed to implement a most interesting pedagogical project based on the belief that the entire spectrum of biological and psychological factors should be considered when moulding a new individual. Further development of the ‘new individual’ concept was limited by universal models that disregarded anthropological characteristics.

Meanwhile, the Russian SFSR, as a ‘model’ republic of the Soviet culture, happened to experience an erosion of national borders, an interesting phenomenon in the development of the USSR republics. Other republics preserved their ethnic and cultural components. Grammars of local languages were created, and regional history was studied in depth. Local writers were encouraged to create new works. As Maffesoli (1982) put it, the Soviet person was like a new Prometheus formed by the achievements of Western culture while also carrying his own cultural background.

Central Asia in the pre-Soviet period: Prehistory of Soviet modernity

The system of social-economic relations that had developed in the historic period of imperial expansion existed up to the moment when Soviet authorities began to restructure traditional practices in Central Asia. In the Middle Age, the region was a space where sciences and arts flourished and where philosophical, mathematical, astronomical, and medical knowledge fused with Islamic civilisation. During nearly all of the 19th century, Central Asia came under the jurisdiction of the Russian Empire. At that time, the region was a mosaic of various khanates and semi-independent provinces. The expansion was not peaceful, and subjugations were often followed by rebellion. The conquest of the region resulted in the establishment of the Turkestan Governor Generalship by Emperor Alexander III in 1867. Beginning in 1886, the region was named Turkestan Krai.

The Russian Empire brought the first seeds of a new Western civilisation together with reforms to land and judicial law. Apart from local laws, Sharia law prevailed in Turkestan at the time. The Russian administration also attempted to influence local government and education systems. The Russian Empire established new schools, although ‘Russian’ schools were not widely popular in the region. Local nobility sent their children to Tatar schools focused on Islamic culture. The programme for Tatar schools with a new methodology was approved at the Muslim meetings in Nizhny Novgorod in 1905–1906. The new approach contained Islamic disciplines from the viewpoint of modernity along with some secular disciplines.

The influence of the Russian Empire on the Turkestan region was highly controversial. Many authors in pre-revolutionary times and especially after 1917 regarded the actual state of affairs with scepticism. A large rebellion in 1916 in Turkestan and adjacent territories revealed that the region was in a critical situation. At that time, the country had been embroiled in a war with Germany and its allies since 1914, which gave rise to several unpopular decisions.

 Special features of the development of the Central Asian republics in the Soviet period

Scholars have assumed opposing positions towards examining the development of the USSR brother republics during the Soviet era. In the early 1990s in Russia, researchers began to publish works interpreting the annexation of territories to the Russian Empire and the USSR in the spirit of classical Western colonialism. Meanwhile, authors of the pre-revolutionary period, Soviet historiography in general, and several post-Soviet publications claimed that the invasion of territory took the form of soft acculturation aimed at the interests of indigenous populations as well.

Kukulin (2013) proposed adopting the following approaches: “It makes sense to distinguish two imperial functions corresponding to the two meanings of the word ‘colonisation’: invasion and acculturation. The main task of invasion is not interaction with the local population, but economic expansion of states in the territories considered culturally ‘empty’. The main task of acculturation is effective government of the population perceived as culturally and/or religiously foreign to the ethnos of the administrators. The latter implies studying and considering specific characteristics of such population including concepts and ideas about ‘their’ territory. However, in the course of acculturation the colonized peoples are always exoticized.” From this viewpoint, the Soviet project of modernity for the USSR republics did not fall under any model of colonialism.

According to Canadian scholar Terry Martin, at the ideological level and from a tactical perspective, in the 1920s and early 1930s the Soviet authorities described the population of national republics as ‘already decolonised’ people; Martin (2011) called this phenomenon ‘affirmative action’ of the empire. Some researchers (e.g., Girault & Ferro, 1989) assumed the ‘supra-national’ policy of the Russian Empire in relation to the peoples of Central Asia to be initially compensated by the Soviet idea of restituting the value of national cultures and offering administrative positions to the representatives of minority peoples: “The Soviet regime can be considered a perfect example of motivating and using the cultures of national minorities (i.e., Kalmyk) in its own interests. However, later such policy revived the pre-existing hostility among the peoples of Turkestan – Uzbek, Kazakh, Tadzhik, etc.”

Economic development of the region

From the moment the Soviet regime in Central Asia was established, modernist concepts were implemented through Lenin’s call to the self-determination of peoples. By the end of the 1930s, Central Asia had acquired the borders that still exist today. The division of Turkestan into four states within the USSR was permanently recognised: Uzbek SSR, Tadzhik SSR, Kyrgyz SSR, and Turkmen SSR. Although Ferro still considered such a division unsubstantiated and not always historically grounded, we shall follow the traditional Soviet and post-Soviet view on regional development as an outreach project.

One of the central concepts of Marxism is the particular role of labour in the creation of an individual. The importance of labour activity was entrenched in the USSR Constitution. In this context, the industrialisation of the republics was not only an economic factor but also an anthropological one. Industrial development is one of the most important indicators of the age of modernity; it included simultaneous development of scientific potential, infrastructure, and the construction of entertainment and cultural centres. The industrialisation process was also influenced by a historic factor: during World War II, factories and industrial production plants were transferred to Central Asia from the European part of the USSR; 308 industrial productions were evacuated to the republics of Central Asia and Kazakhstan (Vert, 1967). Large chemical, power generation, and industrial production plants were constructed in the region, and Central Asia became a major centre for the construction of electric power plants.

The development of culture and education

The USSR attached great importance to education. As noted previously, the project of a new individual was closely related to education. Over the course of the state’s history, except for 1940–1956, the right to free general education in middle and higher educational establishments was codified by law. In 1917, general literacy among the Tadzhik was 3.9%, 2% among the Uzbek, and 0.7% among Turkmen. The proportion of literate people in the indigenous population of Central Asia ranged from 1% to 2% (Uzbek SSR, 1981).

In 1918, the USSR began working to establish the first university in Turkestan, later named Turkestan State University in 1920 (Tashkent State University has been named after Lenin since 1960). Specialists throughout the country were directed to the educational establishment, which remained the largest university in the region until the collapse of the USSR. The number of students was so high that by 1981, Uzbekistan was outperforming such countries as Austria, the UK, and France in educational indicators per 10,000 people (Uzbek SSR, 1981). In 1948, a new building of the State Theatre opened in Tashkent. As a unique architectural monument, it is an object of national pride in Uzbekistan.

By 1984, Uzbekistan had 28 professional theatres, 60 people’s theatres, five philharmonic halls, 35 museums, and 7,000 libraries for a population of 20 million people (as of 1989). Tadzhikistan featured ten professional theatres, 929 clubs, and 1,163 public libraries by 1984 with a population of 5 million people (as of 1989). The republic’s publishing industry produced 61 newspapers with a total circulation of 178 million copies and 42 magazines with an annual circulation of 10 million. Annually, 377 book titles were published in the Tadzhik language, with the general number of printed copies exceeding 4.1 million (Izmailov, 1986).

The monumental architecture of Central Asia vividly exemplifies Soviet modernism in the artistic sphere. Ala-Too Square in Bishkek (formerly Frunze), Lenin Square in Dushanbe, Lenin Square in Tashkent, and Karl Marx Square in Ashkhabad each embodied the idea of forward-looking optimism. These wide open spaces were surrounded by governmental buildings and cultural centres. A tall monument would be placed in the centre of the square (often a monument to Lenin). The architectural space was used for large-scale public events meant to inspire the Soviet people and transmit a feeling of unity and solidarity.

New monumental architecture in the largest cities combined the styles of neoclassicism and modernism. Many cities appeared in the region during the Soviet time.

The monumental architecture of the USSR was also important from an ideological perspective. In his book Lenin’s Plan of Monumental Propaganda in Action, Tolstoy (1965) wrote, “Our squares and streets have to ‘come to life’ and tell with the help of artistic imagery about glorious deeds of our nation and about the people who earned the right to immortality. In essence, monumental art exists in order to be a memorial to the epoch, revive the glorious historic pages of the past in the memory of its contemporaries, evoke public spirit of unity and pride for their Homeland, thus, inspiring the people to perform new great deeds” (p. 55).

Interestingly, this period of monumental sculpture and architecture marked a new stage in the development of modernity – the maturity of the Soviet project with a shift in the public goal towards maintaining a balance and tracking achievements. The features of the trend towards attenuation of the creative impulse and the new world ‘construction’ passionarity became conspicuous during the Soviet era of stagnation. Paperny (1996) described the stage of cultural ‘halt’ thusly: “As the movement forward continues, the sun keeps on shining in the same way and nothing seems to be changing, so the very possibility of establishing whether it is movement or rest disappears, because there is no point of reference. In the new culture, the movement becomes equal to immobility and the future – to eternity.” This eternal future has the following image: “Generation after generation people will get born, live a happy life, and gradually get old, but the Palace of Soviets that they know from the dear books of their childhood will remain unchanged, in the shape they are going to see it in the coming years. The centuries will not leave their traces on it. We will construct it to stay here without aging, eternally” (Paperny, 1996).

Transformation of the cultural movement from yearning for the new into retaining the achieved is illustrated by Lenin’s Mausoleum: “The idea of a mausoleum appears in culture 1 as temporary. The mausoleum will be needed only ‘to give a possibility to all those people, who cannot arrive to Moscow by the day of the funeral, to pay their respects to the beloved leader’. As we can see, it is just an extended wake. Culture 2 is not going to say farewell to the beloved leader. The temporary wooden mausoleum is replaced with a more substantial (also wooden) and then, in 1930, with a stone one meant to stay there eternally” (Paperny, 1996). This phenomenon of conceptualising time as eternity served as a bright addition to a seemingly inconspicuous period of ‘stagnation’ often regarded in the current post-Soviet space as a sort of ‘golden era’ and epoch of universal harmony.

 Secularisation of Central Asia and the anti-religious campaign

Anti-religious attitudes and discrimination against religious organisations and activists was a characteristic feature of Soviet modernity. The first years of the Soviet regime saw the development of a negative attitude towards established religious practices, the creation of decrees on freedom of conscience, and implementation of different practices to suppress and weaken the authority of Islam. In reality, however, religious Muslim organisations remained a strong foundation for social relations through the early 1930s. Everyday religious traditions were followed in households until the collapse of the state in 1991. Beginning in 1929, orders began to be introduced that limited and even prohibited religious practices.

There were some notable exceptions to such rules: starting in 1943 under Stalin, mosques were reopened in the largest cities in Central Asia. In 1945, Muslims of the USSR made their first pilgrimage in many years to Mecca and Medina. Madrasah Mir-Arab began to operate in Bukhara in 1946. In 1971, the Al-Bukhari Islamic Institute was opened in Tashkent. Public clubs, especially in rural areas, were often used as prayer spaces. These developments partially show that everyday life of the Soviet individual in the Soviet republics was two-faced: many historic, cultural, and religious customs and traditions were followed unofficially.

The national character of the political culture of the Central Asian republics remained largely unchanged, which was revealed at the end of the Soviet era. The edition of the Kazakhstanskaya Pravda newspaper from January 27, 1987 described a phenomenon in which traditional titles of authority were applied towards Soviet and party leaders of the republic: “In particular, the traditional title ‘uly’ was used to address the former first secretary of the CPSU Chimkent obkom. In traditional political culture ‘uly’ means ‘the great khan’). During the investigation of the so-called ‘Uzbek case’, we discovered equally eloquent facts about the nature of the relationship between the rulers and the subjects that completely corresponded to our idea of the political culture of ‘Eastern despotism’. For example, the jail found in the basement of the house belonging to the kolkhoz chairman, the hero of socialist labour, greatly surprised not only the intelligent circles of our society, but also the ‘central’ authorities. … It is known that a jail in the residence of a middle Asian ruler served as an important symbol demonstrating his status in the social-political hierarchy” (Bocharov, 1998, p. 139).

Cross-national relations

Many citizens in major cities in the region were Russian-speaking migrants from the USSR western republics who had moved to Central Asia before 1917, along with those who arrived in the region during the evacuation of World War II and, later, for the construction of various industrial enterprises and scientific centres. If the Russian population from the European part of Russia was about 10% in Uzbek SSR, then the proportion reached 20% in Tadzhik SSR and Turkmen SSR and 30% in Kirgizia. This fact was significant in enriching Central Asian republics with Russian culture. The combination of various ethnicities and cultures at the background of the defining Soviet identity prevented any potential for conflict. Nevertheless, the idea of forming the elite and personnel from indigenous peoples within the republics was still promoted in the USSR. Thus, during the post-war years, nearly all top governmental officials in Central Asia were locals of indigenous origin.

Modernity implies the emergence of a national identity as the main path to self-determination. However, national identity makes sense only if a ‘project’ exists of a new society and a new individual. After the end of the fight with Basmachestvo before the 1930s, the republics saw no cross-cultural conflicts until the end of the 1980s. The pogroms at the end of the Soviet era were caused by a social and political crisis and the accompanying controversies.

A number of conflicts in Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan in the late 1980s–early 1990s and complicated circumstances following the collapse of the USSR compelled much of the Russian-speaking population to leave the region. However, the attitude towards this group soon became positive. Some countries launched special programmes aimed at bringing back their fellow countrymen. Thus, in the Republic of Tadzhikistan, Article 23 of the Law “On Migration” is devoted entirely to the specifics of returnees coming back to the country and the relevant social benefits (Rahmonov, 1999). At present, Russia continues to be well connected to the republics of Central Asia (with the exception of Turkmenistan). In Kyrgyzstan, Russian is the official language, and it is the language of cross-national communication in Tadzhikistan. The project of the creation of the Soviet individual, however, ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Naturally, during the later years of the USSR, the impulse of modernity virtually subsided, and information from that time suggests that without the mobilising force of the modernist idea, the republics became slowly immersed in the duality of a Soviet national routine demonstrating all features of cultural hybridism.

Current situation in the region

Until now, the region has remained a combination of the four former Soviet republics. Although the religion still plays an important role in the public life of the population, there is no demonstrated radical Islamic activity due to the inertia of the USSR’s secular ideology. State authorities have tried to control the issue of Islamisation in the population to blunt the strong influence of fundamentalism. However, according to accurate commentary from Martha Brill Olcott (2017), “All the states in the Central Asian region have legitimate interests in seeking to create loyal citizens with a shared national ideology and in foreign policy. But the current strategy of limiting options for the citizens of these, through greatly increased restriction of access to the ‘market of ideas’ through tougher controls of the internet, greater supervision of religious materials coming from abroad, reducing the number of religious groups allowed to operate in the country, is a form of paternalism. All governments are paternalistic to some degree, especially when they perceive an external risk. But exaggerating the risk, or being excessively paternalistic, can create unintended consequences” (para. 52).

The North Caucasus region is a complex space where various religious and historic factors interact. Pronounced radical activity is uncharacteristic of the Caucasus region in general. The centre of Caucasian Islamism today is the Republic of Dagestan, where Islamism happens to deviate substantially from ethnic and cultural traditions. Islamism was not inherent to the Dagestan and Vainakh (i.e., Chechen and Ingush) tribes; Adat, with its unique nature, played a vital part. Although important, the Islamic factor was not defining in the 19th-century wars with Russia. It did not have the radical aspect of the Islam of an Ibn Taymiyyah or Wahhabism perspective, but it did demonstrate a particular Sufi quality of Islam inherent to Central Asia. Today, Islamic values are not considered significant in either Chechnya and Ingushetia or in other, less-populated Muslim republics of the Caucasus. Recently, only the Republic of Dagestan has cultivated strong centres of Islamism due to social and political aspects of regional development (Caucasian Knot, 2017). None of these transformations are directly related to the Soviet modernity project; nevertheless, they can be interpreted as a reaction to the collapse of the modernist model in Asia, Africa, and the USSR as well as in the West. Attempts to return to pure religiosity are indicative of the emergence of postmodern lacunae.


Social-economic and political models of Soviet modernism were an indispensable part of the anthropological model of a ‘Soviet individual’ that enabled ignorance to specific content of cultural and ethnic historic paradigms, thus contributing to the emergence of a new anthropological and social reality. As we can see, not all premises of modernist anthropology were fully implemented in the Soviet project; however, it is important to highlight the principle of modernity: social and economic transformations imply the development and comprehensive implementation of conditions for the formation of a ‘new individual’.

In his book The Soviet Kishlak: Between Colonialism and Modernity: Controversial Combination of Modernity and Colonialism, Abashin (2015) pointed out the ambiguity of social-economic and everyday life processes in the Soviet Central Asia. In an interview about publishing the book, he confessed, “I show a general tendency – a particular path of modernisation that had tragedies and losses together with unarguable achievements. … The word ‘colonialism’ can be off-putting. Many people often see it as ‘defamation’ of the past. As for me, using this word, I want to show that in the Soviet society, let alone the pre-Soviet one, everything was far from being smooth and wonderful. Certainly, there were significant transformations, living standards were rising, people became more mobile and educated, and we can continue this list of achievement” (Fergana News, 2014). As mentioned previously, the collapse of the USSR did not lead to any significant breakthrough in the development of national cultures and economies of the former republics. On the contrary, “we see severe degradation of economic infrastructure and technologies, reduced social safeguards, we see new conflicts and controversies in the society, particularly in the sphere of religion, we witness new types of domination and coercion, when masses of people have to travel to Russia in search of reliable income – what is it if not new forms of colonialism” (Fergana News, 2014).

Neocolonialism is a distinctive feature of modern geopolitics. Disregarding the judgmental intonations of this statement, let us note that this phenomenon can take an important place in studies of contemporary cross-cultural and cross-civilisational processes. Neocolonialism is distinct given a particular similarity between neoliberalism and postmodernism as new concepts corresponding to the collapse of modernist projects have focused on constructing the world and society. Interestingly, neoliberalism and postmodernism are each neutral towards anthropology.

It was Mill (2001) who stated that the individual disposes of a better understanding of the good to balance society’s attempts to impose certain moral or other principles on him. The limits and qualities of the individual are not claimed to be determined anymore, which carries a significant ideological implication. Among other things, it manifests in refusal from controlling the educational system at the governmental level, which is quite different from Krupskaya’s statement on the need for general education: “A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government” (Mill, 2001).

Wallerstein (2008) wrote about the unavoidable crisis of the new global model. He concluded that an important part of such a model is a conscious refusal from state support of the social sphere and, consequently, education: “The ideology of neoliberal globalization has been on a roll since the early 1980s. It was not in fact a new idea in the history of the modern world-system, although it claimed to be one. It was rather the very old idea that the governments of the world should get out of the way of large, efficient enterprises in their efforts to prevail in the world market. The first policy implication was that governments, all governments, should permit these corporations freely to cross every frontier with their goods and their capital. The second policy implication was that the governments, all governments, should renounce any role as owners themselves of these productive enterprises, privatizing whatever they own. And the third policy implication was that governments, all governments, should minimize, if not eliminate, any and all kinds of social welfare transfer payments to their populations. This old idea had always been cyclically in fashion” (para. 1).

A contemporary society of postmodernism is one that inherits unrealised ideals of modernity. Disillusionment in ideals and the crisis of new world construction concepts leads societies either to a denial of the social construction ideology in general or narrow pragmatism. The notion of a ‘project’ no longer exists and, thus, there is no strategy of the future. A new type of social relations has been constructed on cardinally different basic premises that started to unfold in the 1960s (e.g., student protests, the ‘hippie’ movement, etc.). These are universalist models stating the absence or relativity of cultural, national, and religious differences among people. The significance of civic and cultural identity were declining, giving way to accidental practices and connections (e.g., common-interest groups and bright emotional interactions), including those of a ludic aesthetic nature. These new accidental forms of sociality rendered anthropological boundaries highly flexible without offering any content, which is how hollow anthropological forms emerge. The person does not say, “I exist, I am here, but rather: I am visible, I am an image – look! look! This is not even narcissism, merely an extraversion without depth, a sort of self-promoting ingenuousness whereby everyone becomes the manager of their own appearance” (Baudrillard, 1993, p. 23).

The era of postmodernism is one that puts an end to ideas of individual greatness and the possibility of conquering nature entirely, an era of the fundamental knowledge crisis. In this situation, national corporations create false identity forms that operate according to the principle of loyalty to a brand. In doing so, the postmodern world gives birth not to ‘mondialism’ – when everyone is a global citizen – but rather to a universal feeling of migration, doesn’t it?


Chapter 3. Migration processes and integration policy: Principles and implementation issues in the European Union and in Russia

In recent decades, migration processes have seemed to acquire a halo of one of the most important problems of the ‘civilized world’. Although the active movement and resettlement of people could in fact be called one of the main features of our species, another important characteristic is the tendency to divide the social space into ‘ours’ and ‘others’’ – including, in more modern words, ‘indigenous’ and ‘aliens’, ‘locals’ and ‘migrants’. In any village, you can easily find ‘old-timers’ and ‘newcomers’: verbal folk memory in small, stable communities preserves migration histories well, and the ‘migration background’ can last for decades. The public opinion of ‘mainstream society’ and the bureaucracy of large national states, which form complex hierarchies of formal and informal statuses, relating not only to every person who has ever crossed the border but also to members of their family for at least three generations, work far better than the verbal peasant or clan tradition. When the whole world has become a ‘global village’, each citizen must have as many legal and cultural grounds as possible to move from one ‘corner’ to another – and it is not always legal to do so, especially if one plans to move to a more prosperous, closed ‘quarter’; in this case, one will have to ask permission from his future neighbours.

If we move from metaphors to historical patterns, we will discover that the phenomenon of comprehensive legal regulation of migration processes is a relatively recent, closely related to the history of national states of a modern type. The ability of national states to really control the borders and lives of their citizens, maintain unified cultural and economic policy in the interests of the ethnic majority, and possess a developed administrative structure are akin to Hobbsonian ‘Leviathans’ – one of the measures of their sovereignty is the ability to discriminate non-citizens asserting various rules, procedures, and legal statuses for different population groups and doling out punishments for non-compliance. However, simply observing legal formalities for joining the sovereign is clearly not enough: once emerging as a result of integration processes that levelled ethnographic differences within themselves, characterised by a unified linguistic space, common cultural myth, and fixed basic social values, modern nations are increasingly demanding integration from their new members. The collectivity of legal, social, economic, and cultural practices approved by the state for involving a migrant in the receiving society as its permanent member is what we call ‘integration policy’.

On the territory of Eurasia, the most significant of the structures that accept migratory flows are the states of the European Union (EU) and the Russian Federation. To fully compare their migration policies, it is necessary to agree on the basic similarities and differences between the EU and Russia as political subjects in the migration and social and legal contexts. An important and striking difference between the Russian Federation and the EU is that Russia has national sovereignty, whereas the EU is a political and economic union of 28 states. However, the EU combines the signs of an international organisation and public institution, as it contains supranational governing bodies. As in the case of Russia, the implementation of a migration policy at the common European level is structurally and administratively linked to domestic policy, countering extremism and terrorism, and ensuring security. Neither the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nor the Eurasian Economic Union can fully be considered comparable to the EU, which exceeds them strongly in terms of the depth and completeness of political integration at the state-to-state level. At the same time, it was an attempt to apply common European mechanisms in the Refugee Crisis process that was regarded by some EU states as an offence against national sovereignty (Yakimov, 2018a). Moreover, the argument for comparing the Russian Federation and the EU as political subjects is the perception of the Russian Federation as a special multiethnic state of the imperial type – that is, what the EU can become in the long view.

Like EU countries, the subjects of the Russian Federation differ significantly in terms of their level of economic development and the number and ethnic composition of the population. Inside Russia, there is active internal migration – and just like in the EU, its balance favours the most economically successful subjects. Like the European countries, Russia is a part of the assumed North, a territory with developed industry where social and economic modernisation processes have already been completed. As such, the EU countries and Russia are destination countries for migrants from the assumed South. ‘Global North, Global South’ – these geographical determinants eventually become conditional, and it seems that in the future, in the context of migration, using them uncritically will be increasingly difficult.

Russia and the states of the EU are united by the legal space of the Council of Europe, where the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms operates. Despite that the Russian Federation has not ratified several protocols, the European Court of Human Rights, as a part of international law, is a source of Russian constitutional law. In this context, the European and Russian migration law are based on one source. Like many Western European countries, the Russian Federation attracts migrants from countries that were formerly part of the common political space with the Russian Federation: the USSR and the Russian Empire, now members of the CIS. According to the Council of the Heads of Migration Authorities of the CIS countries, more than 85% of foreign citizens staying in the Russian Federation at the end of 2017 were citizens of CIS member states (CIS Executive Committee, 2017). In fact, within CIS, a single economic and migration space remains, outside of which Russia is not a significant host country for migrants.

Like the states of the EU, Russia has faced serious migration crises related to flows of forced migrants from neighbouring states twice during the last 30 years: immigrants from newly independent states and refugees from Afghanistan in 1990–1996 and refugees from Ukraine in 2014–2015. Russian legislation in the field of migration was initially born of the need to determine the legal status of refugees. Unlike many European countries that host immigrant labourers, Russia has recently started to act as a destination country for labour migrants. According to experts, Russia can be considered a new country of immigration. Russian society is not ready to perceive itself as an immigration society; to a large extent, it is convinced that labour migration is temporary and short-term, and some elites speak from the position of either restricting or completely suppressing labour migration in Russia (Malakhov, 2015). However, this situation is typical for many countries in the EU, especially members of the so-called ‘Visegrad Group’.

The current migration contexts of Russia and the EU differ in one of the most important aspects: the predominant nature of migration. Whereas migrant workers predominate in Russia (more than 4.8 million people in 2017), mostly forced migrants (1.26 million applied for refugee status in 2016) enter the EU. Furthermore, the EU far exceeds Russia in the number of immigrants receiving first-residence permits in the EU states (more than 3.3 million people in 2016) (European Commission, 2018a) from so-called ‘third world countries’ outside of the EU.

Discussion on integration: Transnationalism and cisnationalism

Another similarity between the European and Russian public debates on migration processes is the problematisation of migrant integration. While discussions about migrant integration in the media and political circles have addressed the issues of goals, objectives, results, and specific formats of integration policy, the paradigm of ‘integration’ is increasingly perceived in the academic community as a „conservative anachronism“ (Filippova, 2016, p. 305).

In sociological studies on migration and migration processes, the concept of ‘transnationalism’ is used increasingly often, claiming that in today’s globalised world, migration does not describe the simple movement of a population from one country to another; rather, it becomes a way of life for many people and communities and can be studied phenomenologically without reference to cultural, legal, and economic determinants of the sending and receiving countries. „Modern means of transport and communications, liberalisation of border regimes, extraterritorial and virtual social networks allow building life strategies ‘over the borders’, and this makes traditional concepts of integration into the host community an anachronism: for a migrant, it is no longer a vital necessity, as long as alternative social links, which allow satisfying a wide variety of needs are available. … If required, migrants can lead a customary way of life, almost independent of the state. This is not only because the various groups of migrants … are less and less oriented towards state integration programs, but also because the vast majority of migrants are excluded from such programs by the state itself“ (Filippova, 2016, pp. 314–315).

In the logic of transnational studies, the ‘marginality’ of migrants is studied as a status norm, a new format of the human community – a ‘multitude’ in Virno’s (2001) terminology – ignoring and replacing traditional nations-states. Cosmopolitanism, individualism, overdiversity, cultural syncretism, and creolisation should certainly be considered attributes intrinsically inherent in transnationalism, given its self-evident value basis. More traditional approaches to migration processes, which speak in terms of national interests, demographic and economic priorities, and similar points, are naturally perceived from this perspective as somewhat retrograde: state-centred, civil-centric (Malakhov, 2014, 2015), and ultimately ethnic and discriminatory.

The multiculturalist and interculturalist structures of migration policy and discourse are characterised by ‘methodological nationalism’, which manifests itself as perceiving migrants as ‘strangers’, whose appearance is somehow (economically, demographically, or culturally) problematic for the host society and nation-state. Undoubtedly, the migrant is objectified in such a paradigm and subject to classification depending on why the host state needs and is interested in him or her: a prospective specialist or unskilled worker; a labour migrant, representative of the ethnic majority of the host country; a migrant or a compatriot, an opponent of the neighbouring political regime; an asylum seeker, businessman, or investor subjected to simplified naturalisation as a taxpayer. ‘Undocumented migrants’ and refugees are not part of this simple scheme; they are less interesting to the receiving state and need to be either quickly eliminated or integrated via inclusion into the economic, social, and cultural space of the host society. For people who make decisions and are responsible for the well-being of the host society (or for those who assume such responsibility arbitrarily), the presence of people within national borders is normal, and migration abroad is a deviation from the norm that needs to be overcome using integration tools. The question is whether transnationalism can offer such a tool to the host society and to migrants who replenish it, or should migrants be satisfied with something more reliable but obsolescent considering ‘methodological nationalism’?

The contraposition of academic ‘transnationalism’ and positivist political cisnationalism’ is likely temporary: each position has its objective boundaries as a tool for describing migration processes. Some transnational practices are certainly typical for a population of large supranational integration associations (e.g., the EU with its ‘internal’ transnational migration or the unified socioeconomic space of the CIS). At the same time, most of the population within these associations does not migrate anywhere, with the exception of individual tourist episodes, and in this regard it really is a ‘local population’ that should not be disregarded. Despite that the numbers of undocumented migrants today are significant, it is phenomenal for our era that the overwhelming majority of migrants arrive in the host countries completely legally, with the intention to use existing formal legal statuses. Many of these migrants deliberately ignore the transnational paradigm, intending to be granted citizenship by the host states or obtain residence permits; that is, the migrants themselves (perhaps after the scientists?) fully agree with the existence of nation states and are ready to be part of their political nations, which is exactly why they have chosen the host states so thoroughly.

Finally, the idea that transnational migrants are no longer part of their own national community with its own ‘national myths’ and ‘cultural codes’ is unlikely to be true; migrants import their own uncritically perceived identities, their own nationalism, and their own understanding of the cultural norms and national interests of their own nations to the host states together with themselves. Supporters of ‘trans-’ and ‘cisnationalist’ migration methodologies in fact have much in common: they both value the national interests of the host communities and nation states as real regulators of migration policy; both critically analyse migration practices and assess their effectiveness; and both actually welcome integration practices with regard to migrants, irrespective of their attitudes towards the very notion of ‘integration’.

 Integration policy of the EU and its members: Principles of implementation and evaluation of effectiveness

The aggregate migration flows within the EU are quite significant. There were 36.9 million people born outside of the EU states living in an EU member state on 1 January 2017 and 20.4 million persons who had been born in a different EU member state from the one where they were residents (Eurostat, 2018). It is important to mention that citizens of EU countries can move freely throughout the EU and have equal access to the labour market and social welfare in other countries of the EU – while the policy regarding migrants from ‘third countries’, depending on the circumstances of their entry, is either in the priority management of nation states (e.g., economic migrants, immigrants and compatriots, foreign students, military personnel, and entrepreneurs) or partly supervised by the European Commission (e.g., refugees, migrant workers from ‘third countries’, and individuals employed in multinational companies within the EU). General principles and recommendations for the regulation of migration policy, including in the context of migrant integration, are nevertheless determined at the supranational level by the European Commission.

Within the EU, a complex and balanced system of interaction between states on migration issues has been built, designed not only to determine practical ways to implement migration policy but also to establish guidelines and a basis for future situational consensus on migration issues. In the structure of the European Commission, migration issues are considered within the same context as internal policy (Migration & Home Affairs) along with issues of combating human trafficking, terrorism, and extremism.

One of the most important tasks of the European migration policy is the timely maintenance and transformation of a Common European Asylum System. The European Migration Plan (European Commission, 2018b) has been routinely updated with the following priorities:

  • development of cooperation with regions from which refugees come to the EU, primarily with Turkey and African countries within the framework of relevant funds and bilateral agreements. The format of such cooperation includes financial and other support for the countries and regions from where refugees come in exchange for facilitating the suppression of illegal migration to EU countries and providing assistance to refugees outside the territory of the EU. An example of such agreements is that which concluded with Russia and influenced the liquidation of the Arctic transit route for refugees to Norway and Finland (Bisson, 2017);
  • protection of the maritime borders of the EU and suppression of illegal migration;
  • facilitating refugee resettlement back to the countries of origin with financial compensation; and
  • assistance in redistributing refugees within the EU.

It is the last two points that elicit the most severe criticism from euro-optimists, human rights activists, and Eurosceptic. Euro-optimists and human rights activists insist on strengthening the authority of the EU in ensuring humanitarian commitments in regard to refugees and creating an efficient system for their redistribution across the EU territory. They also criticise programmes aimed at suppressing illegal migration and returning people who have applied for refugee status to their countries of origin: accusations of the hypocritical nature of the policy of the ‘voluntary return of refugees’ are being made publicly, supported in Germany where such countries as Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan appeared in the list of 39 countries considered ‘safe to return to’ (The New Observer, 2016). Eurosceptics agree with the position of countries belonging to the Visegrad Group, insisting that the distribution of refugees within the EU should be voluntary for host countries and should not be subject to quotas as opposed to considerations of national sovereignty (Bisson, 2017).

Regardless of political discussions, the situation with illegal migration in the EU remains complicated: in 2017, approximately 205,000 irregular crossings occurred over the EU border, and 685,000 applications for recognition of refugee status were filed in the EU (European Commission, 2018c). At the same time, it is noteworthy that the main approach for suppressing irregular migration in the EU is not legalisation and integration but instead the ‘return’ of refugees (Irregular migration & Return). However, there are significant transnational advantages for certain categories of foreign citizens in the EU: since 2017, for example, internal corporate transfers of foreign employees from one EU country to another and to EU countries from ‘third countries’ within the same company are allowed. An employee can be given an ‘Employee Intercompany Transfer Card’, the equivalent of a residence permit in the EU (Bundesamt fur Migration und Fluchtlinge, 2017). Denmark, Britain, and Ireland, however, do not participate in such mobility. Another unofficial but quite effective transnational practice in the EU is the illegal stay of persons denied refugee status: in 2016, 494,000 people were informed they were obliged to leave the EU, 247,000 of whom decided to ignore it (European Commission, 2018a).

The European Commission supports the expert European Network on Migration that also develops integration programmes. The principles of integration extend to citizens from ‘third countries’: the European plan for the integration of third-country citizens defines integration as a way to understand migrants’ potential. The primary principle of integration is the shared responsibility of migrants and the host community; it is presumed that integration comes through participation in the life of the local community, engaging in activities on the local level and keeping in touch with one’s country of origin according to the transnational paradigm (European Commission, 2011). At the same time, at the level of national states, harsh and clearly protectionist integration regulators are becoming increasingly significant, such as the Institute for Migration Sponsorship in the UK and the Netherlands (similar to the Middle East system of workers‘ dependence on employers, the kafalah) (Komarovsky, 2016), or more than 20 years of experience implementing integration contracts with persons wishing to be granted citizenship (Yudina, 2015).

The effectiveness of integration policy, as a rule, is rather difficult to assess despite existing administrative tools. Discussions on the effectiveness of integration measures undertaken in the EU have resulted in the creation of the Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX, 2015a). At the moment, MIPEX indexes the migration legislation of 38 countries on 167 indicators, including eight fields of policy implementation: mobility in the labour market, education, political participation, access to citizenship, family reunification, health, permanent residence, and anti-discrimination. As evidenced by the list, only migration legislation is subject to analysis, not law enforcement practice; besides, among the indicators, no sociological research data are available on sociocultural integration, dedicated to the notorious ‘culture–value distance’ between migrants and local residents and the degree of real social exclusion of migrants.

It is unlikely that MIPEX data can be used to critically assess the degree of structural integration among migrants, especially in the long term. For example, Belgium ranks 7th among 38 countries, has a total MIPEX score of 67 out of 100, and scores 78 out of 100 on anti-discrimination. At the same time, according to sociologists, „Belgium is an example of unsuccessful structural integration of the second generation [of migrants]: regarding the level of education and positions in the labour market, they have a worse situation not only in comparison to local peers, but also to the first generation of migrants. … Compared to local peers, the second generation is worse at school, twice as likely to drop out of school … Only in 57% of cases is it employed, in contrast to 81% among their local peers who are 20-29 years old“ (Varshaver, Rocheva, & Ivanova, 2017, p. 65).

Another tool for assessing the effectiveness of integration of migrants, this time from the point of view of EU citizens, is a unique Eurobarometer on immigrant integration into the EU (European Commission, 2018d). According to sociological surveys conducted for the study „Integration of immigrants in the European Union“ in the end of 2017, “only a minority (37%) of Europeans think that they are well informed about immigration and integration related matters. Respondents also tend to overestimate the number of non-EU immigrants: in 19 out of the 28 Member States, the estimated proportion of immigrants in the population is at least twice the actual proportion and in some countries the ratio is much is [sic] higher. 57% say they would feel comfortable having any type of social relations with immigrants (manager, work colleague, neighbor, doctor, family member including partner, friend)” (European Commission, 2018c). Otherwise, “just over half (54%) of Europeans think that integration of immigrants is successful but the figures varies [sic] widely between countries. There seems to be a link to the actual share of immigrants in a country’s total population: in countries which have a low proportion of non-EU immigrants in their population, respondents are less likely to see integration as a success or feel that immigrants have had a positive impact on their society” (European Commission, 2018d).

Among the EU states, the best-informed population regarding issues of integration and immigration are Denmark and Sweden (EU Open Data Portal, 2018): in Sweden, which ranks 1st in the MIPEX rating with an aggregate integration policy estimate of 78 points, the popularity of the right-wing Swedish Democratic Party (ScandiNews, n. d.) advocating for stricter migration legislation is growing; the 2015 election in Denmark voted into power the centre-right coalition, which aims to establish „control over the flow of refugees“ (BBC, 2015). Let’s hope that the turn of the political pendulum in these states will not create obstacles to further integration of immigrants and refugees.

It seems that overcoming structural distance between the local population and immigrants does not guarantee quick levelling of cultural distance or elimination of discrimination and xenophobic stereotypes. Adequate perceptions of migration processes by the local population, and not the desire to see the threat in migrants, constitute a condition for the real effectiveness of integration programmes. The willingness of local residents to see ‘their people’ as ‘newcomers’ is essential for the peaceful and harmonious development of European countries.

 Migrants and the local community: Overcoming distance

Do we have the right to establish internal borders for the integration of migrants based on national, ethnic, or local identity? Further, do we actually have the right to ethnicise social and legal differences? The concept of identity, understood in the ‘group spirit’ (i.e., serving the idea of ​​ethnic, social, national, and other communities as the major units of social analysis and interaction) has been increasingly criticised by anthropologists in recent years: “‘Identity’, understood in the strict sense as implying an exclusive, unchanging, fundamental approximation means usually too much; and understood in the weak sense – as a multiple, fluid, fragmented, contractual, it usually means too little. … Work performed by ‘identity’ could be made more satisfactorily by several groups of less loaded terms such as identification and categorization, self-understanding and socialization, community and connectedness“ (Brubaker, 2012, p. 19).

Under conditions of mass migrations that gradually become a lifestyle, an intermediate, supranational, suprareligious and supraethnic ‘migrant’ identity acquires special significance: it becomes a record of social statuses and everyday practices of those who participate in migration networks, with the ambivalence of their situation not only causing certain problems but also offering practical advantages. One of the characteristic features of the present time is the growing number of enterprising transnational migrants, whose way of life, identity, and values ​​are not just mechanically united – mixing cultural, ethnic, and social traits of different societies – but also allow for the acquisition of sociocultural competencies either inaccessible to or limited for the local population. The volume of migration links and transnational network interactions engaging an individual in the globalised world of postmodernity becomes an indicator of the individual’s success and higher, supra-group competence positions.

Organised groups – states, religious communities, nations – respond to these trends in a reactionary way, by mobilising the identity industry: cinema, television, newspapers, radio, and even ‘Internets’ (Runet, etc.) are being increasingly reorganised to facilitate the reproduction of a group identity among the subordinate indigenous’ population. Unity is based on identity, identity is reproduced by the industry, and national states control this process, ensuring the transfer of identification experience from previous historical periods to the present. In such a coordinated system, the appearance of many non-indigenous populations can easily be perceived as a threat to identity; such populations’ experiences of identifying themselves is uncontrolled, immune to already-existing industry and its images and mechanisms. Authorities’ requests for targeted sociocultural adaptation of migrants should also be perceived according to the logic of the identity industry’ as an attempt to reorganise in the midst of new demographic and social realities.

In a competitive environment of migratory flows induced by states and geopolitical associations, supranational identity models ensuring loyalty of the necessary categories of migrants to the host society are the most successful. This is the ‘European identity’ of the EU, the ‘American identity’ of the United States, and the broader ‘unstable’ ‘Western identity’: ideologically and informally supported, these population identification formats work on the principle of brands, ensuring loyalty of part of the home country’s population. In the former USSR, there is a request for similar forms of identity, without which the socioeconomic, cultural, and civilisation space of Russian Eurasia turns out to be somewhat ‘numb’, unfinished, unnamed. Who are they, our migrants from the CIS countries? Are they Russian speakers, a part of the Russian world, or former Soviet people? Compatriots – but of what country? None of this is suitable. Thus, the post-Soviet, Eurasian integration has no ‘brand’ yet; it is supported solely by social-economic inertia.

Migration processes mobilise both sides participating in them: the local population and newcomers. When mobilisation (i.e., the arrangement of limited groups) occurs on the basis of cultural, ethnic, and other differences as opposed to similarities, the problem of growing xenophobia and racism emerges on one hand with marginalisation on the other. Migrants of the ‘1.5 generation’ (who arrived in their teens with their parents) as a result of disintegrated socialisation fully overcome neither the cultural shock nor marginalisation in the new society: the synergistic effect of these processes makes them a particularly vulnerable group in terms of ensuring the policy of ‘identity’. It is important that a similar process be experienced by their local peers from socially vulnerable groups. Emphasising common identity elements and identifying new, innovative ways of working with these segments of the population represents an important task for host societies.

In terms of identity reproduction and activation, migration benefits the societies and states of origin in the long term. Migrants (of the second and third generations, as before, and already of the first and 1.5 generations) need to maintain a sense of identity to their societies of origin, and they have all the technical tools for this. The diaspora thus becomes the most important instrument of influence for origin states that by no means lose their ‘human resources’ but rather export and multiply it. Taking a perspective of 20 to 30 years, the ‘identity industry’ will work to maintain the diaspora and promote its values ​​even more than now, and the demographic contribution of home countries into host societies will be generously repaid, providing them with dominance – if the identity industries of the host societies do not remain more powerful and attractive, as they are now.

The Russian migration policy system: Processes and logic of its transformation

The structure of the Russian migration policy and, accordingly, the migration law fields have developed dynamically and are constantly changing. This pattern has emerged due to the specific socio-historical circumstances in which the modern Russian state system was formed and the various migration processes from different directions. The first measures to elaborate the migration policy of the Russian Federation were enacted in the early 1990s, when a large number of forced migrants from the former USSR republics began coming to Russia, an influx that was followed by the development of a system of migration policy institutions. Before the approaches and mechanisms in this field had been established, „the absence … of the concept of state migration policy in Russia led to the fact that the state authorities lacked a basic vector – an integral system of views on the content and main directions for implementing the strategic course of the Russian Federation in the field of migration. Migration policy and adopted normative legal acts were extremely different: it was either complete liberalization of external migration and committing to unrealistic obligations towards migrants, … or extreme hardening of the state attitude towards migrants, which resulted in violations of human rights” (Brubaker, 2012, pp. 199–200).

The abovementioned problems and expert discussion led to the development of the “Concept of the State Migration Policy of the Russian Federation”, which was approved by the President of the Russian Federation on June 13, 2012. The “Concept of the State Migration Policy” is a strategic document defining the goals, objectives, principles, and main approaches of the policy and the development of legislation in the migration field until 2025. This concept envisages the creation of conditions for the wide involvement of labour migrants in Russia; emphasises the need to improve the mechanism of quotas and other instruments to regulate the attraction of foreign labour; and promotes the use of various selection mechanisms and conditions for entry, stay, and work. At the same time, the main migration policy principles in Russia include prohibiting any forms of discrimination; fostering interaction among federal bodies of state power, state authorities, of the federal subjects of the Russian Federation, and local self-governing authorities; promoting the development of social partnership institutions and civil society; providing protection for the national labour market; and considering the specifics of regional development (Brubaker, 2012).

In addition to the “Concept of the State Migration Policy” until 2025 (President of Russia, 2012), the issues of labour migration regulation are also considered in another fundamental administrative legal document: Strategy 22 of the State National Policy of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2025, which proclaims the need to promote the social and cultural adaptation and integration of migrants. The main law in the field of migration policy is the Federal Law of July 25, 2002, No. 115-FZ „On the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation“ (ConsultantPlus, 2002). Among other important federal laws in this field, it is necessary to mention the laws „On the procedure of leaving the Russian Federation and entering the Russian Federation“ and „On the migration registration of foreign citizens and persons without citizenship in the Russian Federation“. Since July 1, 2010, amendments to the law on the legal status of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation has stipulated the division of the foreigners into two categories of migrants: those employed by individuals, and highly qualified specialists. Thus, the principle of differentiation of foreign labour resources was introduced into immigration legislation for the first time.

The beginning of 2015 was marked by several changes aimed at further development of legal regulations related to the labour market. Federal law 24.11.2014 № 357-FZ (ConsultantPlus, 2014a) completely changed the rules of labour immigration in Russia. In particular, the concept of a ‘work permit’ was radically changed and is now a document (i.e., a plastic card) confirming the right to temporary employment on the territory of the Russian Federation for foreign citizens who arrived in the country with a visa. Additionally, the quota system for foreign citizens arriving from CIS countries that had existed for many years was abolished, which covered more than 80% of labour migrants.

Migrants’ understanding of the language of the host country is an important aspect of integration. The decree of the President of the Russian Federation „On ensuring interethnic concord“ (ConsultantPlus, 2012) introduced a legislative requirement for migrant workers to master the Russian language and to learn the history of Russia and the fundamentals of legislation. This requirement was embodied in provisions of the Federal Law of April 20, 2014 No. 74-FZ (ConsultantPlus, 2014b). Since January 1, 2015, all labour migrants (except for highly qualified specialists and persons who have studied or are currently studying in Russian universities) must pass exams testing their knowledge of the Russian language, the basics of Russian legislation, and the country’s history. This measure, in our opinion, can be regarded as a practice of pre-naturalisation for foreign workers residing in the Russian Federation.

Regulation in the field of labour migration is carried out in the Russian Federation, among other factors in accordance with international law, which includes international treaties. In Astana on May 29, 2014, representatives of Russia, Kazakhstan, and the Republic of Belarus signed the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union. Within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, which replaced the Eurasian Economic Community, the parties guaranteed free movement of goods, services, capital, and the labour force and implemented coordinated policies on energy, industry, transport, and agriculture (ConsultantPlus, 2014c).

The 2016 reform of the Russian Federation’s migration policy was accompanied by a decisive restructuring of the executive authorities system: the Federal Migration Service of Russia was abolished, and the regulation of migration processes was entrusted to the General Directorate for Migration Issues, part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. The migration legislation of the Russian Federation is a dynamically developing branch of law that aims to consider the interests of various social actors: the state, the host community (i.e., citizens of the Russian Federation), employers, local workers, federal subjects of Russia and the federal centre, foreign states, and foreign citizens. Based on the specifics around work regulations for citizens of the Eurasian Economic Union, the following principles apply to post-Soviet migrant integration institutions: free access to the national labour market, equality in employment and provision of social benefits, and abolition of restrictions in the field of employment. As a participant in these international treaties, the Russian Federation is building the most liberal policy related to labour migration for its closest geopolitical partners, maintaining a visa-free regime with CIS countries. In the course of migration legislation reforms in the Russian Federation, many problems that created obstacles for migrants’ legal integration were not solved; as of January 1, 2015, MIPEX experts assigned the integration policy of the Russian Federation only 29 points out of 100 (MIPEX, 2015b).


The EU’s migration policy is based on the experiences of Western European countries, which have included immigration and the establishment of multicultural societies for more than half a century. The EU integration policy tool is based on a unified European monitoring system for legal purposes and for public opinion; coordination and development of framework measures is carried out at the EU level. Nevertheless, national states within the EU are establishing migration priorities to suit their own interests based on experienced legal mechanisms for attracting legal labour migrants and legal integration technology. A transnational migration space has developed inside the EU, which continues to be a ‘European fortress’. Transnational methodology, appearing in the governing EU documents, is combined with integration approaches; however, both paradigms do not always allow for the identification, prediction, and resolution of internal problems in European societies caused by migration processes. Russia is not yet fully aware of itself as an immigrant country and is in a state of continuous migration policy reform, designed to consider the numerous interests of key political actors on the international and intra-federal levels.

The Russian Federation’s integration policy is only beginning to form as a separate field of migration law. At the same time, the Russian Federation is implementing developments that might be interesting for Europe, especially employing migrants on the basis of work patents, regulating labour migration at the level of federal subjects, and forming a single migration space within the Eurasian Economic Union. Analysis and comparison of the European and Russian experiences in the field of migration flow regulation can prove beneficial for improving Russian and European migration policies and their implementation.


Chapter 4. Assistance to the social and cultural integration of migrants as a form of intercultural dialogue: Principles and practices

In the modern world, the interconnection between societies and states is conveniently expanding. The unprecedented rate of information exchange and transportation flows as well as increased ease and freedom of movement not only simplify relocation but also facilitate positive decision making on migration itself – be it large masses of people or lone individuals. In the existing global distribution of economic, social, and political roles and under conditions of growing instability, states either mostly send or receive migration flows. The characteristics of migration processes reveal the quality of state policy on economy and human capital development as well as domestic freedoms and the ability of national authorities to resolve internal and external conflicts. The quality, quantity, and origin of immigrants in host countries offer an idea of the effectiveness of economic development and of the ‘sphere of influence’ of their foreign policy: every large destination country is a migration ‘hub’ of a specific territory, most often within the borders of large-scale geopolitical integration projects of the past, present, or future.

In developed postindustrial countries, migration has become fashionable as a lifestyle, a way of learning about the world and realising one’s potential in a territory of jurisdictions that better suit the customer. A touristic culture is followed by the development of an ‘expat’ subculture with its own cross-national infrastructure. In absolute terms, the size of this migrant category is insignificant compared to flows of labour migrants or displaced people; however, these groups are united by the idea that the migration process allows them to exercise their rights and possibilities for the right to life and adequate standard of living to professional and creative personal fulfilment. For most states, many non-citizens willing to realise their potential and talents within their territories is not only a boon and benefit but also a serious challenge. The environment of migration exposes all spheres of public life, state structure, and administration to an efficiency test. In a social sense, international migration works as a catalyst – it exacerbates pre-existing social problems and reveals the flaws of social structure in general.

How will the host society react to migration processes? Will the host country be able to meet the expectations of migrants, benefit from them, and at the same time prevent discontent on the part of the local population? Will it be able to preserve its society and incorporate new citizens without creating segmentation and ghettos? What is the role of cultural differences in migration management? How can countries work with the non-migratory population in the context of migration processes? How will social integration be controlled and managed? To answer these and other questions, states develop integration policies. The following sections aim to describe distinct principles, imperatives, and methodology for the regulation of migration processes to harmonise social relations in the context of cross-national migration.

Improving the management of migration processes

Part of the world population is ready for international migration, and several countries are willing to host migrants. From this perspective, states compete with each other for an additional resource, human capital, in an attempt to augment their economy and their international and cultural influence. Migrants make a choice and vote with their feet by moving to a given country. At some point, their choice can become final. Cross-national logic does not mean that a migrant can simultaneously live under all jurisdictions of the world, because one day he or she will have to become a resident and then choose citizenship. The host country must create state policies for desired migrants, encouraging them to stay and facilitating their assimilation into the community.

As a rule, external migrants form a group socially excluded from the host community. During their stay in the host country, migrants either surmount their social exclusion and acquire the status of a foreign citizen with permanent residence or become unable to adapt to or overcome marginal conditions. Thus, a strategy of inevitable migrant adaptation can be summarised as the Four Access or ‘4 A’ strategy:

  • Access to information: the possibility of obtaining adequate information about the legislation of the host country, legal support mechanisms, cultural specifics, and standards of conduct, work places, vacancies, etc.;
  • Access to legal status: the possibility of acquiring a legitimate legal status; for example, if a foreign citizen receives a work permit, then he or she  has acquired the status of a foreign worker;
  • Access to infrastructure: the possibility of using social, housing, medical, transport, cultural, and economic infrastructure at the local level. Legal or practical (institutional) limitations on access to infrastructure lead to the emergence of enclaves or ‘ghettos’;
  • Access to resources and services: the possibility of accessing required resources at an economic, legal, social, and cultural level to establish an acceptable standard of living and consumption and ultimately become a full member of economic, social, and cultural life in the new environment.              

Every incoming migrant must acquire a particular legal and social status (complete paperwork); determine an economic niche (find a job); and provide for his or her basic social, economic, and cultural needs (e.g., housing, food, permanent income, and communication with others). If a migrant has an intention – whether conscious or unconscious – to stay for a long time, then he or she must resolve the problems of access to information, infrastructure, resources, and services in a way that is conducive to permanent residence.

During the integration process, migrants engage with the activities of various social institutions. Their legal status and relation to the host country are defined by the state institution. A migrant’s assumed economic niche, profession, and income level determine his or her place in the professional community and association with a particular social class. The ambition to preserve one’s cultural and ethnic identity and keep in touch with fellow countrymen involves migrants in the activity of national diasporas and communities. Relations with the host society and local citizens and friendly relationships with immediate neighbours affect one’s local identity. Gradually, immigrants begin to identify with the locals, pick up local habits, and increasingly feel as if they are local citizens. When relying exclusively on friends, relatives, and fellow countrymen from one’s country of origin, foreigners may find themselves integrated into a society parallel to the mainstream or into migration networks, which can lead to alienation from the local population and denial of its traditions and norms (i.e., enclaves). If a migrant turns to state authorities and public organisations for necessary support, he or she can begin to cultivate a sense of loyalty to the country of residence and host society.

Social institutions that provide migrants with access to the abovementioned services and support have a seminal influence on migrant integration. Thus, adaptation is not equal to legalisation, and integration does not necessarily imply naturalisation; in countries with predominantly non-regulated migration, the legal status of ‘an illegal immigrant’ is sufficient to arrange one’s life without any help from the state or local civic organisations. Even when ‘illegal’, such migrants become a part of the local community and thus influence its structure. Migration networks ultimately take their place in the social and economic hierarchy and form a segment in the topology of the host society. If the state and local community take no measures to integrate their migrants, then migration networks, religious communities, and other support groups do it for them. In other words, a migrant becomes integrated into the community (local, national, and religious) that provides him or her with the required resources. Thus, essential conditions of effective integration policy include the following:

  • establishing simple and easy-to-understand procedures of migrant legalisation at the local and national levels: ‘illegal migrants’ should also be granted access to these procedures in the case of migration amnesty – formal violations of migration rules should not deprive a migrant the potential to acquire a legal status with the exception of criminal and extremist elements that must be prosecuted individually;
  • quality monitoring of law enforcement practices: principles of integration policy should correspond to the declared goals, tasks, and spirit of the host country’s founding documents at all levels of implementation. Law enforcement practices should not be repressive or limit legal mechanisms of access to information, status, infrastructure, resources, and services for migrants;
  • creating adequate channels to inform migrants: important information should always be accessible through specific information channels and in languages that migrants use (e.g., instant messaging systems, text messages, etc.). In this sense, such campaigns will be more effective if organised in migrants’ countries of origin;
  • quality monitoring of social structures that integrate migrants into the host society in practice:  it is crucial to monitor how migrants resolve issues of access via overt observation or sociological monitoring;
  • establishing a clear stimulation system offering benefits for participation in formal and informal integration practices at the local and national levels: willingness to participate in local mainstream social and economic life as well as integration events as a volunteer or co-organiser is indicative of a migrant’s motivation and should be rewarded at the legislative level, such as through a simplified procedure of receiving a residence permit or acquiring citizenship. This recommendation implies that migrants should not be encouraged for non-participation in integration measures: unilateral funding of people who were not recognised as refugees in the host country and decided to come back to the country of origin, as well as subsequent financial support of their reintegration in the home country, is a controversial act of grace from the viewpoint of integration logic and the implementation of humanitarian duties.

Integration measures are often implemented while overcoming relevant social challenges including xenophobia and discrimination of foreign citizens, social exclusion of migrants, excessive limitations on legislation, poor infrastructure for adaptation and integration, illegal migration, and shadow or unofficial employment. An inability to adequately meet these social challenges results in aggravation of systemic issues in the host society, such as social exclusion of second- and even third-generation migrants. The fact that this oxymoron offers a precise description of significant social groups of the local population indicates that integration policy has failed, and the host society as well as social relations have transformed due to a hierarchy, discrimination, and segmentation according to race.        

Prevention of cross-ethnic tensions and nationalist and fundamentalist extremism

Undoubtedly, it is hard to integrate into a society that hates you. However, can we actually talk about the phenomenon of large-scale migrantophobia, racism, and Islamophobia in Europe? It is unlikely: social studies offer no indications that hostility towards others in European society is the norm. It would be more accurate to say that ‘it is hard to integrate into a society that notices you’ and identifies a person as a migrant. Such a race-based version of interaction between mainstream society and a part of migrant communities is adequately reflected in the sociological construction of visible minorities’. Minorities that differ in terms of race, language, and culture are usually exoticised by the majority as ‘strangers’ independent of their real identity and legal status of each ‘visible’ representative of this group. Exoticisation is followed by stigmatisation that ascribes deviant and negative behavioural patterns to ‘the visible’. Thus, the construction of ‘target groups’ is often a form of stigmatisation that in itself provokes extremist views.

Developing practices in the sphere of migrant adaptation and integration

Measures to integrate migrants are guided by several principles:

  • integration is a process that migrants must undergo individually and as a socially vulnerable group;
  • responsibility for integration lies with migrants themselves and with the government, organisations, and population of the host country;
  • the host society bears the responsibility for migrants’ legal status in facilitating migrants’ ability to participate in economic, social, cultural, and civic life in society;
  • in turn, migrants should respect the basic standards and values of the host society and actively participate in the integration process while preserving their own identity (Mukomel, 2016).

When developing and implementing integration practices with the participation of migrants and the local community, it is important to consider the requirements of helping to prevent cross-national tensions and negative ethnic stereotypes. Primary recommendations on organising conflict-free intergroup interaction are described through contact theory as follows (Varshaver, 2015):

– common goals and institutional support for contact (i.e., maintaining formats and offering platforms that facilitate contact) substantially reduce negative stereotypes;

  • common group characteristics should be emphasised in a careful and tactful manner;
  • mechanisms evoking empathy while reducing anxiety should be used during group interactions and events;
  • positive and negative ideas resulting from interaction with a group representative will be transferred to the whole group;
  • the minority and majority have different reactions to interaction: majority representatives are more susceptible to the effects of contact;
  • negative contact has a greater effect than positive contact;
  • contact also affects people with major prejudices: they rarely engage in communication of their own volition, but if contact takes place, such individuals are much more likely to change their opinion.

Integration practices cannot be effective outside a well-established system of interaction with governmental and non-governmental organisations, including those of the home country, local authorities, civic initiatives, and migrant communities. The following suggestions can facilitate the implementation of effective migrant integration:

  • forming a regional system for social adaptation and integration of migrants: developing and implementing a relevant national or municipal programme;
  • providing subsidies and grant funding to public organisations involved in migrant integration activities, including instruction related to the language, history, legislation, and culture of the host country;
  • creating infrastructure for consistent information support for migrants at the national and local levels, including a network of information desks: such support for migrants implies developing, publishing, and disseminating printed materials and creating and maintaining websites, mobile applications, and channels via social networks and messaging systems;
  • access to free legal support: organising access to free legal support for migrants and permanent and temporary information offices that engage public organisations;
  • creating national and local cross-agency committees committed to combating discrimination and providing equal rights for migrants and their family members;
  • permanent information support via governmental and non-governmental organisations involved in regulating migration processes and working with migrants: formulating best practices based on specific projects and events in migrant integration and conducting training and workshops for local authorities and state government;
  • increasing the potential and qualifications of migrants and civil activists interacting with migrants (e.g., joint training on specific legislation issues to improve legal literacy among migrants, and encouraging locals to establish friendly relationships to develop cross-ethnic and cross-national solidarity);
  • building a system of interaction among national state authorities, local governments, public organisations, migrant communities, and civic initiatives: this measure implies migrants’ active involvement in the resolution of integration issues while testing a crowdsourcing format with the participation of migrants themselves;
  • supporting cooperation among governmental and non-governmental organisations, civic initiatives, and communities in home and host regions: migration problems are international and, in the context of propagating transnational strategies and practices, they cannot be resolved without organising efficient interactions between civic societies of the home and host countries.

Methodological support for harmonising cross-ethnic relations in the context of migration

Joint projects on adaptation and integration of migrants should correspond to the following criteria:

  1. common interest: the project should be of interest to migrants and to the local population and should align with their needs;
  2. common benefits: project participation should be of practical use to migrants and to representatives of the local population;
  3. consideration of specific characteristics: cultural, religious, social, and ethnic characteristics of the population participating in the project should be taken into account;
  4. creative use of interactive cultural practices: traditional culture is a rich source of inspiration for such forms of social interaction as dancing, singing, mutual assistance, and charity practices (e.g., zakat and sadaqah among Muslims);
  5. individual and non-competitive participation: participants should not be divided into teams based on ethnicity and social or religious affiliation that would otherwise offer them an advantage or disadvantage in the competition;
  6. active involvement: representatives of migrant groups and the local population should be involved in developing and implementing a project; all relevant parties should be informed in a timely manner of migrant participation in such initiatives;
  7. exchange of experience: the event should have a format conducive to active and mutually beneficial interaction between migrants and non-migrants. Notably, non-migrants might be interested in the life experiences and competencies of migrants, who can act as event organisers;
  8. solidarity and tolerance: project participants should abide by several principles while implementing the project, including that discrimination and hate speech towards the participants must be avoided during project implementation;
  9. direct contact: direct positive interaction among representatives of the migrant and non-migrant communities may encourage individuals to overcome ethnic stereotypes and harmonise intercultural relations;
  10. common identity: the cultural event format should emphasise common cultural features as opposed to differences among the participating groups and evoke a feeling of inclusion in the local community-, gender-based, and other groups (women, men, workers, neighbours, etc.) independent of participants’ citizenship, nationality, or religious views.

Migration processes change the world, and we should react to them in a way that promotes positive change. Individualism, freedom of conscience, political culture, and tolerance are becoming norms of our new global socially normative culture, and migration can facilitate this process. Home and host countries invest substantial resources in migrant integration, approaching the migration process as a possibility rather than a challenge. Undoubtedly, the process requires significant effort because migration ultimately examines a society’s resilience to social problems, segmentation, and social division. To pass this examination successfully, the local population should gain the support of migrants themselves – our future friends, neighbours, colleagues, and relatives. To this end, we have to play by the same rules, respecting and accepting each other as equals.

Conclusion: Modernity as a world without borders and migration policy

In the context of massive migrations that are becoming a way of life, an intermediate, supranational, suprareligious, and supraethnic ‘migrant’ identity has acquired special significance. Having to register one’s social status and perform everyday practices, participants in migration networks may find the ambivalence of their situation not only problematic but also advantageous. The formation of a supranational identity is a difficult process due to a lack of roots in local and temporal points and the absence of values associated with culture-specific patterns of humanity. In addition, a supranational identity turns out to be more of a group or communitarian identity by nature and therefore cannot serve as the basis of the civil identity of a nation-state.

As for the phenomenon of ‘European identity’, Professor Hans Alma rightfully noted (2017), “the values have been neglected in the project of integration and it partly explains the difficulty of sustaining a vision of European citizenship. The master narrative that was supposed to link economic and political decisions to humanistic values like freedom, human dignity and tolerance has either remained too implicit or proved to be too weak to provide a stable foundation for the European project” (para. 6). The problem of values and the new ‘project’ of humans represents an important starting point in the formation of any new world. It is not enough to have economic or specific civil mechanisms to support a newly born ‘superethnos’, to borrow Lev Gumilev’s term. Modernity as a world without borders renders any identity problematic. As a consequence, negative (i.e., denial-based) and extremist practices become more common.

If social groups are identified on the basis of cultural, ethnic, and other differences rather than similarities, then this pattern points to problems of growing xenophobia and racism on one hand and marginalisation on the other. As a result of their disintegrated socialisation, migrants of the ‘1.5  generation’ cannot fully overcome their culture shock or marginal status in the new society: the synergistic effect of these processes makes them a particularly vulnerable group in terms of providing for the ‘identity’ policy; it is important that a similar process is experienced by their local peers from socially vulnerable groups of the population.

Let us talk mention an at-risk group, young people, for whom the uncertainty of personal existence can become traumatic. Social research has identified several reasons behind ethnic European youth converting to Islam: one of the basic motives for such conversion is the attainment of certainty, which neither traditional religion nor their cultural and family environment could give them. Several European studies have shown that social media posts from young people demonstrating frustration and uselessness were marked for recruitment to extremist associations. Another serious aspect is rarely mentioned in sociological and political discussions: modern society must offer specific descriptions and images of the future. An advantage of most extremist organisations is that their followers are offered concrete strategies for the future, practical values, and specific images of humanity.

It is necessary to resist the negative tendencies of modernity with a clear understanding of human nature. Strategies for migrant integration must consider a range of social, cultural, and civilizational problems. At the moment, only migration legislation is subject to analysis, whereas law enforcement practices are not. Moreover, no sociological research has been conducted on sociocultural integration dedicated to the ‘culture–value distance’ between migrants and local residents and the degree of actual social exclusion of migrants.

To remove this ‘culture–value distance’, the following basic principles should be observed in migrant policy:

  • The construction of ‘target groups’ is often a form of stigmatisation that inherently provokes extremist views: in fact, ‘migrants’ as a permanent active community do not exist – every person with a migrant status has individual behavioural strategies and can choose to be part of a social group (e.g., family, clan, tribe, or religious community) or to be emancipated from such forms of social life. This is how atheism and secular lifestyles spread among people born in Muslim countries and currently living in Europe. Few visit mosques, but the image of ‘a Muslim’ being imposed on a large population group only serves to make fundamentalists’ work of forming an anti-mainstream migrant identity easier;
  • cross-ethnic and cross-group relations should be maintained rather than harmonised: everyday life interactions involve individuals and small social groups as opposed to ethnicities, cultures, and religions. Ethnic, cultural, and religious identity is used in conflict interaction as a way to mobilise conflicting parties and ‘protect’ certain fragile interests of higher value as opposed to extremist ambitions. The use of mass media in describing ethnic, cultural, and religious conflicts promotes their escalation instead of resolution.
  • cultural, religious, and ethnic differences exist in any society – they should be nether ignored nor exaggerated: if the state refuses to consider such differences, it interferes with exercising basic human rights – meeting cultural and religious needs of the population, including the need for self-identity. Disregard for and discrimination against cultural, religious, and ethnic identity pave the way for extremist ideas. Conversely, when taken to political level, some leaders can leverage these differences to achieve their goals.
  • national, religious, and cultural communities should not perform functions alien to them: the roles of religious communities and national and cultural groups should not involve providing for the economic, social, and political interests of certain populations. These institutions should not be considered as (the only) integration mechanisms for migrants: the use of ethnic, religious, and cultural leaders as mediators and intermediaries in implementing integration measures leads to the integration of migrants not exactly into mainstream society but into national diasporas and religious communities. Under such conditions, belonging to these communities can be essential for migrants to the detriment of integration policy goals. Migrants should be able to protect their rights and interests without having to unite in groups and communities.
  • The host society has basic values on which it cannot compromise. Any infringement upon these values, from whomever it comes, should be consistently prosecuted and terminated. Observing these basic values is the main condition for the enjoyment of the basic rights and needs of every individual, including the right to a religious and cultural identity.
  • ethnic cultures and religions have much in common: common elements of identity should not be ignored but rather emphasised in implementing cultural, national, migration, and integration policy. Such an approach will help to cultivate a common civic identity that is comfortable for everyone independent of religious and ethnic affiliation.
  • It is necessary to encourage migrants and locals to participate in joint activities and other forms of social life including cultural and integration events: support of active tolerance and solidarity between migrants and non-migrants facilitates the emergence of local communities immune and intolerant to nationalist and fundamentalist extremism.

The phenomenon of new forms of social solidarity has replaced conventional rational, discursive, and legal practices. In this context, the interaction of state authorities and public organisations is of particular importance. Public initiatives to prevent and resist nationalism and fundamentalism in cultural and social life should be supported, especially if they involve migrants or ex-migrants who successfully represent the local population.  In conclusion, the successful integration of migrants into host societies will be possible only if principles of future development and common humanitarian values are formulated.


[1] Processes of institutionalization, including those in a symbolic context, were described by Berger and Luckmann (1966) in The Social Construction of Reality. A Treatise on Sociology of Knowledge. On the phenomenon of multidirectional development of institutions and networks, see Preobrazhenskaya and  Shelonaev’s (2016)




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Vorheriger ArtikelProf. Achille Mbembe on the upcoming 2018 Rhodes Forum
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Anthropologist, expert on migration legislation, economic migrants and ethnic minorities, RU

Dr. Andrey Yakimov is an anthropologist, expert on migration legislation, economic migrants and ethnic minorities. He is also project coordinator in Promotion of Awareness Raising and Social Enhancement Projects Charitable Foundation PSP-Foundation (St. Petersburg, Russia) and co-author of a set of policy recommendations, called the St. Petersburg State Subprogram ‘Implementation of the Concept of the State Migration Policy of the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg in 2016-2020’.

Executive Director of the limited liability company, the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation,

Valeryi Znoev: PhD in Economics, Co-author of the 'Axiological, normative, cultural, and civilizational context of personal identity in boundary situations of post-modernism' project. Executive Director of the limited liability company, the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation

Department of philosophical anthropology and public communications of the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, Graduate student,

Anton Kudryavzev: Department of philosophical anthropology and public communications of the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, Graduate student
Kira Preobrazhenskaya

Head of Research and Social Projects at the Russian Christian Academy of Humanities,

Kira Preobrazhenskaya: PhD, Head of the 'Axiological, normative, cultural, and civilizational context of personal identity in boundary situations of post-modernism' project. Head of Research and Social Projects at the Russian Christian Academy of Humanities. Former Head of the Department of philosophical anthropology and public communications of the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia.