Intercultural Melitopol: measuring cultural empathy
Melitopol is a city of the Azov region, where more than 225 years there’s harmonious coexistence of ethnic-religious and national minorities. Today it’s the home to over 158,000 residents, belonging to 93 ethnic and religious groups. Upon initiative by the Development Centre “Democracy through Culture” in 2008, the city of Melitopol was included in the pilot project of the Council of Europe “Intercultural Cities”. Today, the Ukrainian intercultural platform consists of eleven cities.
Melitopol carried out a representative survey on “The role of multi-cultural environment in shaping inter-ethnic tolerance of youth in Melitopol”. It allowed not only to discover discrete patterns of the formation and manifestation of tolerance (or intolerance) towards people of other cultural backgrounds, but also outline the values and emotional attitudes of young people allowing to predict their behavior. The survey was based on the scale of social distance by E. Bogardus (modernized and adapted by Ukrainian sociologists) was used. The scale reveals the identity, openness (tolerance) (agrees admit as a member of the family – 1 point, as close friends – 2 points, neighbours – 3 points), national isolation (as colleagues – 4 points, people in the country – 5 points), national isolation (as tourists – 6 points) and xenophobia (don’t allow to the country – 7 points).
Positive developments in achieving an acceptable level of intercultural urban environment and of sustainable multi-ethnic tolerance has been achieved through a coordinated approach of all social institutions: public, specialists in different fields, social services, media and local authorities.
Thus, the development of the “Strategy of Melitopol 2020” accounted not only experts’ ideas, but also those of inhabitants. 10 focus groups with different compositions and a survey among more than 12 thousand respondents, revealed that people considered intercultuality one of the main advantages of Melitopol, compared to other Ukrainian cities (according to almost a quarter of respondents (24.1%). 20.1% of respondents wanted to see and intercultural Park of Culture and Leisure and 62,1 % believed that the city’s intercultural profile promotes a culture of tolerance.
Now the sociological research laboratory is working on testing methods of measurement of “cultural competence” (for ideas of G. Hofstede and tested by Ukrainian sociologists N. Kostenko and L. Skokova). This involves analysing the interaction of four components, namely: competence motivation (interest, confidence and desire to adapt to different cultures), cognitive (understanding of cross-cultural issues and differences), metacognitive (strategy understanding of cultural diversity and experience) and behavioral (changing verbal and nonverbal actions according to the situation of interaction in different cultures) in different intercultural situations.
The Laboratory of sociological research of the State Pedagogical University of Melitopol invites the Intercultural Cities to cooperate to conduct comparative analytical research and develop practical recommendations for policy development.
L. Afanasyeva, I. Bukreyeva, L. Hlynska, A. Orlov.