Migration and Ethnoreligious Hate Crime in the Russian Federation: Risk Profiles 2000-2010

National Science Foundation (Research Grant SES-0452557)


General description

The relationship between demographic change and ethnic violence has been one of the basic research questions in social sciences and the one that has not been studied systematically in comparative settings. The proposed study focuses on Russia where ethnoreligious hate crime has been an increasingly prominent social problem since the late 1990s. We seek to examine demographic, socioeconomic, and policy contexts that give rise to violence such as skinhead riots and street raids by chain-and-rod wielding toughs; torchlight marches and attacks on mosques and synagogues; murders and beatings of foreign residents and diplomats; desecration of Jewish cemeteries and intimidation of Chinese traders by whip-cracking Cossack gangs.

Explanations of these events by Russian experts have evoked well-known social science theories emphasizing rebellious youth subculture, rapid social change, prejudice, and political “normalization of violence.” These factors, however, fail to explain regional variation in hate crime rates across Russia’s provinces, cities, and counties over time.

Addressing important gaps in empirical and theoretical knowledge, the proposed study will for the first time model and test the combined effects of migration and demographic trends on ethnoreligious violence and militant interethnic hostility in the Russian Federation. The study examines new hypotheses derived from an adaptation to the Russian context of the multicausal “defended neighborhood” model of hate crime and the security dilemma model of anti-migrant hostility. By estimating the effects of demographic change in Russia’s political and social context—particularly the influx of migrants into ethnically homogenous areas and association of migrants with threats to territorial integrity—the proposed study contributes to research on violence in psychology, sociology, and political science.