Belarusian “Map of tolerance”
You don’t have to conduct a research to fix an inhomogenuity of Belarusian society – it’s obvious. Political split revealed itself so brightly, that even president had to talk about “minorities” in his New Year speech.
Research of social borders in Belarusian society was conducted by international association of non-governmental organizations GPPAC in November-December 2010.
Ethnic composition of the Republic is consisted of more than 130 nationalities. Besides part of those who consider themselves Belarusians has lessened since the census of 1999. The west of the country is traditionally Catholic-oriented, and the east – Orthodox. Moreover, Muslims and Jews have lived for centuries on the territory of Belarus. There are many divisions but there is a belief that Belarusians are tolerant and this unites a very variegated society. This belief is also supported by the official ideology. Sociologic survey proves that it took root deeply in the society. But surveys show that people in Belarus only BELIEF that they are tolerant but not that they really are tolerant. • Message in Twitter: “If you want to make me mad, tell that you are a Belarusian girl and you like some paki”. • 62% of Belarusians stand for criminal persecution of homosexualists. • In Vitsebsk hooligans were condemned for beating up foreigners in the streets. • There are cases of discrimination of HIV positive people. Are those isolated cases or problems which are not accepted to talk about? How do they reflect the general situation? In spring 2010 Big Fish Consulting Company in association with Publicis Hepta Group conducted a research of values of Belarusian people. It was based on Schwarz method. As long as theory of values by Schwarz and his toolkits became an inherent part of European sociological survey which is carried out twice a year in 33 countries of Europe and Israel, applying of this method gave the opportunity to compare how tolerance is important for Belarusians if compared to Europeans. The results showed that …. Belarusians consider themselves tolerant but tolerance as a value is on a lower level of values than on average in Europe. In summer 2010 international organization GPPAC (Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflicts) initiated organizing of a Summer School of Tolerance for young people in Belarus. Russian expert on the problems of xenophobia Igor Savin who was in charge of the research part of the School came to conclusion after carrying out focus-groups: “Unfortunately, the level of intolerance here is the same as everywhere. But here there are no significant others which could be treated by people as hostile”. Therefore, there is a chance that cases of intolerance are rare in Belarus not because “Belarusian people are tolerant’, but because there are not many reasons for expressing intolerance in a closed society. And we can apprehend that social tension will grow together with dropping visa barrier, increasing amount of migrants in the country, dropping taboo from public discussions of homosexuality problems, problems of HIV-positive people and handicapped persons. As long as summer tolerance schools are going to receive status of a traditional annual event, a demand arose to know which forms of tolerance in particular it is necessary to develop in youth society of Belarus. This goal gave the idea to research socieal borders of Belarusian society and making a “map of tolerance”. As a part of a study it was to find out whom do citizens of Belarus treat as “strangers” and according to what criteria do they point “outsiders” in society. Answers have been searched for in several stages. The first stage was a content analysis of livejournal Belarusian sector. The second was a series of interviews. And the final third stage was the comparison of the first and the second stages’ data. Content analysis of Belarusian livejournal sector was selected as data source, because • firstly, livejournal is very popular in Belarus, discussions of all significant issues take place there, • secondly, • “Live journal” is a common communicative platform for representatives of different social groups and of different political views (which it’s impossible to tell about mass media, which is divided into two camps with intersectional audience). At the same time the major percent of livejournal users in Belarus are young educated people with a high income level who live in Minsk, that’s why the results of the research of livejournal can’t be transferred onto the whole Belarus. Method B: selection included posts published in Belarusian livejournal sector in 2010 from January till November. Every month one weekday was chosen (according to the statistics maximum quantity of posts is made in LJ on weekdays). In such a way the selection was 10 days of 2010. For further analysis of texts the following categories were defined: • ethnic background, • age, • gender, • religious views, • political, • health status, • sexual orientation, • point of residence. A set of key-words was made according to each category (two analogous lists – in Belarusian and Russian languages). According to the key-words LJ posts have been chosen from which later posts with “alienation” elements were detached – e.g. posts in which an author not just mentioned a group of people (for example “Germans” in football posts) but described them as strange, different from his or her own social group or pointed at his or her belonging to a group stressing its special place in society. Then the posts chosen were put to the analysis table which is given below. From approximately 22 thousands results according to the key-words, 193 posts were put to the analysis table. Analysis table Link Post mention Number of comments “for” alienation Number of comments “against” alienation Form of showing alienation Connection with author’s position 1 2 3 4 5 6 In the course of the work “posts” and “mentions” were separated. In the first case the topic of a post was a difference between social groups, in the second case this difference was just mentioned in the post of other theme. Those comments to a post were taken into account which somehow showed agreement with existence of social borders (comments “for” alienation) and also comments which denied existence of social borders (comments “against” alienation). For calculation of quantity index following formulas were used: Post 10+ Number of comments “for” alienation - Number of comments “against” alienation Mention5 + Number of comments “for” alienation - Number of comments “against” alienation Post was initially assigned of a higher value (10) in comparison to mention (5) because the fact that social border became so important theme that it even became the topic of a post should have been reflected in quantity index. Index was summed up according to each category. It is supposed that the more posts stating existence of social borders there are in every category and the more comments there are agreeing with existence of such borders, the more harsh and the more significant the border itself is. Data received is performed in the following diagram: Interview Method So long as the audience of Live Journal is quite specific and can’t be considered to be a society poll it was considered to make the second stage of the research – a series of interview. 31 people, 19 men and 12 women aged from 20 to 65 were questioned. Education level of the questioned varied from those who have only graduated from school to science candidates. Among respondents there are: • representatives of 5 national minorities • representatives of 6 churches • of all RB regions, capital district and province. The questioned are of different political views; three of them are of certain disability group or have relatives suffering from some serious illness, three of them are gays. Interview election principle was belonging to any social group potentially rejected by the society (many of them were representatives of several groups at the same time) or expert status (2 sociologists, 1 religion expert). The choice of belonging to a group potentially rejected by the society as a choice principle was occasioned by the fact that there can be a situation when the majority doesn’t speak about a minority because it just doesn’t notice it and doesn’t consider it worthy to be mentioned. But the minority in this situation can keenly feel its alienation – the second stage of research is directed to reveal borders of such kind (important for narrow social groups and less important for society in general). The interview consisted of 9 questions which allowed a respondent to think over different aspects of alienation and exclusion of certain groups from the society. But only one answer was examined: Point out 3 characteristics from the list below according to which there is a strong social alienation in Belarus. Explain your choice. ▫ Employment ▫ Age ▫ Point of residence ▫ Nationality ▫ Education ▫ Gender ▫ Political views ▫ Religious views ▫ Activity ▫ Sexual orientation ▫ Family status ▫ Health state ▫ Social status ▫ Income level The characteristics were not ranged according to value, every point mentioned was treated as a unit value. Data of all interviews was summed up. It is supposed that the more harsh social borders are those mentioned by the majority of respondents. The results received are shown in the following diagram: Results comparison As long as it was impossible to create a map of social borders and the adequate situation in Belarus in general according to the research of Belarusian Live Journal sector and interviews it was decided to make the third stage of the research – comparison of the results of previous stages. It is supposed that high index of a category received both during blogs analysis and interview analysis show a harsh social border and potential or existing social conflict. Diagrams in the table below show results of the previous researches. The comparison of the diagrams shows that the most “problem” sector is political views. The second one is (unexpectedly for people who consider themselves tolerant) is national identity, which gives rise to concern. Different but not the last positions are occupied by “religious views” and “sexual orientation”. It’s obvious that due to the selection principle of the interviewed the percentage of religious people and gays was higher than in average in the society, which resulted such a high index. But at the same time the research of blogs also allows to register social borders according to these characteristics. Livejournal interview Conclusions The most harsh social borders (descending) are: • political views • national identity • religious views • sexual orientation. Exactly in these problem spheres a strong social tense is accumulated and it’s up-to-date to work them out in different education events. The research of social borders in Belarusian society was conducted by international association of non-governmental organizations GPPAC in November-December 2010.