Playgrounds as Migrant Integration Spaces
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Rocheva, A., Varshaver, E., Ivanova, N. (2017). Playgrounds as Migrant Integration Spaces. Educational Studies Moscow, (2), 167-184. [in Russian]

 

Playgrounds form one of the types of public spaces with the widest possible access and thus imply opportunities for interethnic contact. This contact, in turn, can contribute to migrant social integration — meaning a weakening of migrant-non-migrant stereotypes and a formation of new social ties between these two ‘groups’—or, on the contrary, lead to conflicts and strengthen negative attitudes. Existing scholarship provides contradictory accounts regarding the question about the role that public spaces in general and playgrounds in particular play regarding migrant integration. In the case of Russia, there are no accounts at all. The article presents the results of research conducted with qualitative methods (observation and interviews) on the playgrounds in two Moscow residential neighborhoods in 2014–2015 and which focused on the grown-ups/parents rather than the children. The article argues that playgrounds contribute to the integration of internal migrants-‘ethnic majority’ but not international migrants-‘ethnic minority’, even more so if the latter speak little Russian and/or wear a hijab. As a result, playgrounds witness the formation of two distinct ‘social circles’ of the ‘ethnic minority’ and ‘ethnic majority’ with few contacts between them, most of which are of a conflicting nature. Lack of interaction together with presence in the same space leads to the creation of a negative interpretation of each other’s behavior from both sides.