Attitudes towards Cultural Diversity: A Study of Russian Teachers
The paper presents results of an exploratory study of teachers’ social attitudes toward ethnic and religious diversity, and variables influencing such attitudes. The study was conducted in Russia and is focused on school teachers in culturally diverse modern societies. Using the social distance scale we sampled 355 school teachers from two Russian regions known for their high cultural diversity (Moscow region and Republic of Tatarstan), measured teacher attitudes toward large religious and ethnic groups (including migrants). The findings showed that teachers hold mostly tolerant attitudes with respect to members belonging to culturally and religiously diverse groups. The social distance between respondents and native residents of their region was minimal. Social distance was larger with respect to such ethnic groups as migrants from the Caucasian and Central Asian countries. The analysis of perception of different religious groups also showed positive attitudes toward these groups and readiness to interact with them. Teacher attitudes were not related to their age or ethnicity. There was a significant correlation between social distance and the region of residence, and between social distance and the degree of social interaction. The results of this study will be used to develop a large-scale study to contribute to a better understanding of teacher attitudes toward immigrant students in public schools.
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