The Baltic Region

2016 Issue №1

Social conflicts as seen by residents of Saint Petersburg: An empirical study

Abstract

This article describes the attitudes of Saint Petersburg residents to social conflicts. The author analyses their assessments of danger associated with social tension in the Russian society. This tension becomes particularly pronounced during the time of economic, social, and political turbulence. The research aims to examine the existing threats and identify opportunities for reducing social tension. The article makes a practical contribution to the development of social policy and civil society. The author describes the attitudes of Saint Petersburg residents to various social conflicts. They believe that religious and ethnic conflicts are the most dangerous ones and consider ‘conflicts over property and status’ a minor threat. Residents, associating themselves with the middle class, are more inclined to stress the danger of religious conflicts compared to those who associate themselves with the lower class, which is corroborated by a comparison of real incomes. The intensity of personal anxiety, experienced in the presence of people differing from the respondents, can be described in the following way: the most acute anxiety is caused by people of a different nationality, followed by nationals of other countries and members of other religions, then people with differing political views, and compatriots from other Russian regions. These data make it possible to identify hidden connections and patterns in the socio-demographic structure of these attitudes, which can be instrumental in obtaining a comprehensive picture of threats and emerging social conflicts and, hence, in preventing them.

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