Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians: together or apart? (Saint-Petersburg representations dynamics, 2006–2016)

Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians: together or apart? (Saint-Petersburg representations dynamics, 2006–2016)

Sikevich Z.V.

Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Prof., Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnic Sociology, Saint-Petersburg State University, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

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Sikevich Z.V. Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians: together or apart? (Saint-Petersburg representations dynamics, 2006–2016). Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2017. No 7. P. 88-98


The article deals with social representations by people from Saint-Petersburg of Ukraine and Belarus, Ukrainians and Belarusians and also with the interpretation of the images of these countries and nations. Data of 1996 and 2014 polls are compared, which allows revealing dynamics as representations and the maintenance of these images. Data were obtained in particular by associative method and content-analysis. The study was carried out by the laboratory of ethnic sociology and psychology of the Saint-Petersburg University under the direction of the author of the article. We used the quota sample of the Saint-Petersburg population. How the political situation in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus determines the perception of these countries? Does the perception of the state coincide with the representation of the nation? Are there personal contacts between the citizens of these countries, despite the crisis in Russia/Ukraine state relations? These and other important questions we tried to answer in their study. Conditionality of concepts and estimates are discovered by the factor of belonging to a certain generation reveals (“Soviet people” and “post-Soviet people”). The main findings of the study are as follows: Dynamics of changes (2006–2016) is stated, but it is lower than expected. We can assume that a negative distance in relation to Ukraine and Ukrainians began to take shape before the Ukrainian crisis of 2013–2014. Expansion of the social and political distance between the Russian and Ukrainian take place, in particular due to the growing indifference of the younger generation to the Ukrainian crisis. The former “Soviet people” continue to treat Ukrainians as brothers in trouble (sympathy) or as brothers who have betrayed us (aversion). The real potential for integration of the type of the Soviet Union, according to 2016 study compared to the previous one, is exhausted. This is to some extent contrary to the interpretation of the concept of “Russian World”, exceeding the territory of the Russian Federation. In our opinion, this fact can be explained by the reluctance to perceive Ukraine as a “different” state and Ukrainians as a “different” nation. In addition, such an interpretation of the “Russian world” reflects nostalgia for the “immensity” of the USSR. Against the background of growing antipathy towards Ukrainians sympathy increases for the Belarusians. Between Russian and Belarusians ethnic distance is virtually absent. In contrast to the Ukrainians Belarusians are perceived as “our” people like us. With respect to Ukraine and Ukrainians a “betrayal” of the brotherly people is especially true for the older generation. Stereotypes contained in the images of Ukraine and Belarus, Ukrainians and Belarusians are the least affected by the social environment than the social reflection. Stereotypes identified through associative method are listed in order of frequency of mention (minimum 5%). Here are the ones that are most often mentioned by respondents: 1) Ukraine: bacon, Kiev, “maidan”, war, gorilka, “Our Crimea”, Gogol, Poroshenko, Ukrainian soup – borscht. 2) Belarus – Lukashenko, potatoes, Minsk, Bialowieza Forest, order, cleanliness, USSR, brothers, Belarus tractor, “our people”. 3) Ukrainians – cunning, brothers, hostile, angry, merry, unhappy, Slavs. 4) Belarusians – brothers, hardworking, Slavs, quiet, kind, friendly, homey.

associative method; modal association; content analysis; social representation; ethnic stereotype; personal contacts; image of Ukraine; image of Belorus; “Russian world”; perception dynamics; sample


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Content No 7, 2017