Associate professor, Political psychology chair,
Saint Petersburg State University,
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Years of social, economic, and political changes have resulted in intensive and extensive migration activity. The appearance of compelled and voluntary migrants has brought about the development of a new direction in social psychology: the psychology of migration. Many disciplines are connected with the study of migration, the problems of migrants, and adaptation processes. In the social-psychological literature, various models of adaptation to new conditions of a social-cultural environment are considered (I. Jasinskaja-Lahti, K. Liebkind, J. Berry; S.-K. Lee, J. Sobal, E. Frongillo). Various social-psychological features of migrants are studied: for example, ethnic identity, characteristics of psychological adaptation, emotional well-being, and mental health. In the Russian scientific literature the following problems are considered: emigrants’ interactions with representatives of foreign cultures (N. S. Khrustaleva), degree of cultural similarity (T.G. Stefanenko), personal features of emigrants (S. H. Schwartz, E. Prince-Gibson), features of ethnic identity (G.U. Soldatova, S. D. Gurieva), and many others. In Russia, research regarding the influence of the social-cultural environment on processes of adaptation were begun only in 2004.
The main objective of our study was to identify psychological mechanisms of migration flows (incoming and outgoing) as indicators of sociopolitical and psychological stability in the Pskov Region. Participants in the study were citizens permanently residing in the Pskov Region who by age and social characteristics represented the population structure of a part of that region. In total, 52 persons aged 17 to 69, with an average age of 42.3, participated.
The technique used was focus groups. A content analysis was made of the answers received in the focus-group sessions. During these sessions, participants could freely share their views on questions asked by the facilitators who had a college-level psychological education. In each group, two facilitators worked cooperatively. One facilitator was in charge of group dynamics; the other was in charge of asking all the questions covered as well as of keeping track of all the substantial aspects of the conversation. This arrangement encouraged the participants to discuss issues of the region in an open manner.
The findings allowed us to classify all the migrants and potential migrants in the Pskov Region according to their reasons and motives for migration. For example, in the Plyussa settlement, which is “depressed” and remote from the region’s center, migrants seek to escape their extreme poverty and unemployment; they can be called “survival migrants.” In the “favored” central area, the city of Pskov, migrants seek to significantly increase their income level and improve their quality of life. We can describe them as “migrants seeking new opportunities.” In a border area, the town of Gdov, people living in close proximity to other countries (Estonia, Latvia) compare their financial situation and opportunities with those of their foreign neighbors. Migrants living in Gdov tend to move because they want to avoid an environmental crisis or progressive degradation of the environment, structural unemployment, and poor economic opportunities. We can call them “migrants in search of hope and prosperity.”
In the Pskov Region, the labor (economic) situation is a typical reason for migration. Migration for economic reasons is a resettlement of people for the purpose of employment and proper remuneration. Labor migration can have such causes as a desire to change one’s job, as well as sociocultural, housing, environmental, nature, climate, and other conditions. Without a developed economy and social sphere, regions are able to prevent only elderly or incapacitated people from migrating. To retain the younger generation, it is necessary to inform people of all the possible difficulties that potential migrants may face and to make systematic and large-scale efforts to develop the region, to improve the image of the region (including encouraging the residents to be proud of and to cherish the region’s heritage and its people’s achievements), and to create a comfortable environment.
Keywords: migration processes, reasons for migration, potential migrants, the Pskov Region.