Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences, Jacobs University Bremen and
University of Bremen,
Background. We use Social identity theory as a theoretical framework, specifically focusing on strategies of identity management. The study is based on the following theoretical assumptions. First, identity management strategies might serve as mediators between different identity threats and behavioral patterns in intergroup relations. Second, identity management strategies help to make the shift from the individual to the group level of analysis, allowing us to take the consequences of intergroup behavior for a group entitativity into consideration. Third, identity management strategies strongly depend on the social context of intergroup relations.
Objective. In the current study, we look into the relationships between identity management strategies of the ethnic Russian majority and their attitudes towards multiculturalism to identify whether certain strategies are helpful or harmful for the acceptance of multiculturalism in Russia.
Design. We use Russia vs. the West comparison to evoke the perception of identity threat. We measure strategies of identity management based on this comparison, as well as attitudes towards multiculturalism in a survey of 307 Russian participants.
Results. The findings suggest that identity management strategies are indeed related to attitudes towards cultural diversity and equality in Russia, as well as to acculturation expectations of whether minorities should adopt the mainstream Russian culture or keep their own. We find that strategies of individualization, individual mobility and assimilation have mostly negative consequences for acculturation expectations, as they all show patterns that support assimilation of minorities instead of integration. We also find support for the “scapegoat” hypothesis, showing that choosing the strategy of changing the comparison group results in more negative attitudes toward cultural diversity and equality for all in Russia. The strategies of social creativity (change of the categorization dimension, temporal comparison, comparison with a standard, etc.) seem to be irrelevant for attitudes towards multiculturalism.
Conclusion. Our findings suggest that none of the strategies of identity management promote acceptance of multiculturalism. However, strategies of social creativity are the only ones that do not have negative consequences for support of multiculturalism. Theoretical and practical implications for multiculturalism policy adoption in Russia are discussed.
Keywords: identity management strategies, national identity, multiculturalism, Russia