Class matters: social distinctions and life strategies among African migrants in Moscow
Dmitri Bondarenko (Institute for African Studies)
Paper short abstract:
We distinguish between two social groups of African migrants: "affluent" and "struggling". Their life strategies differ sharply: the affluent opt for maximum integration in the mainstream socio-cultural milieu; the struggling limit themselves to mere adaptation by cooperating mainly with one other.
Paper long abstract:
The changes since the breakup of the USSR have impacted African migrants' social composition, as well as their life strategies in the capital city of Moscow. In this paper, we distinguish between two social groups of African migrants: "affluent" and "struggling". Almost all affluent migrants are those who have come to study at Soviet or Russian universities, have lived in Russia for at least twenty years or thereabouts, have obtained Russian citizenship (mainly through marriage), speak fluent Russian, know the Russian lifestyle very well, enjoy support from Russian family members and respect in their home countries, have native Russians as close friends, are happy to see their children being very well integrated into city life, and are always welcome in their motherlands' embassies. The struggling Africans are mainly present-day economic migrants and refugees, whose coming to the country became possible only in the post-Soviet time, with usually insufficient education background and poor Russian language skills, poor knowledge of Russian lifestyle, few, if any, Russian friends, and very limited financial possibilities with little hope for any kind of support by the home country's official representatives. The Africans from the two social groups usually use two radically different life strategies to embroider themselves into the fabric of Russian society: while the affluent opt for maximum inclusion in the mainstream socio-cultural milieu, the struggling cooperate mainly with one other. Thus, while one group seeks integration into the Russian society, the other limits itself to mere adaptation to life in Moscow.
Staying, moving and settling in Africa and its diaspora [EASA Africanists' Network]