Hard-working but outsiders: paradox of perception of migrants in mass conscious- ness (the case of St. Petersburg)





sociology of migration, labor migrant, public opinion subject, St Petersburg survey, migration economy, marginality, social exclusion


The article is focused on the reflections of the residents of St. Petersburg concerning today’s migration processes. The paper considers the duality of the image of the migrant community. On the one hand, the image reflects the reality in a generalized way; on the other hand, it represents a construct that standardizes basic perceptions of newcomers. The empirical basis of the study is two surveys conducted among the residents of St Petersburg in 2010 and 2016; the surveys contain data about public and private contacts be- tween city inhabitants and migrants as well as attitudes towards migrants whom they encountered in their everyday life in different situations. The study shows that as early as 2010 almost all the inhabitants of St Petersburg were involved in public contacts with the newcomers but these contacts were weak. Private contacts of the residents and migrants are less common, and increase slowly. About 10 % of the population were engaged in the intensive interaction with migrants, and this has not changed over the six years between the surveys. Inhabitants assess the migrant work both in public and private situations positively; from 2010 to 2016 the public assessment of the migrant activities has considerably improved. The paradox of the perception of migrant in mass consciousness is that the positive assessment of their labor activity and communicative behavior neither facilitates further interactions between migrants and residents nor weakens the receiving society’s negative perceptions of migration.