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Tolerance and Intolerance in the Post-Soviet Press:
Applying New Methods of Measurement and Evaluation

European project sponsored by INTAS (May 2005-April 2007)
supervised by Howard Davis (University of Wales, Bangor, UK)
Xavier Giró Martí (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain)
Johannes Angermüller (Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg, Germany)
Research team: European University at St. Petersburg, Russia
Institute of Sociology, Moscow, Russia
Social Fund Resource Center of Samarkand Region, Uzbekistan
Eurasian National University, Kazakhstan
Organization of Social Sciences Teachers, Russia

The key themes of the project are tolerance and intolerance in the recent post- Soviet press (in the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan). The research addresses the topic of identities in transformation and responds to current concerns about the rise of racism and ethnic discrimination in public communication, aiming to provide an objective basis for evaluating the performance of a broadly representative sample of periodicals. It builds on the achievements of recent research on the media and ethnic relations by the 5 NIS members of the consortium, including the RF Ministry of Education initiative on tolerance. The proposed project follows on from debates about theory and method generated in this framework and aims to break new ground in terms of the theory of tolerance, the scope of the research, methods of analysis and application to the practice of journalism. Tolerance is assumed to be revealed through mutual recognition and access to the understanding of different worldviews in the context of common rights and if any of these components are absent there is a risk of intolerance. The methodology reflects this by treating all expressions relating to the ‘Other’ as relevant data, not simply those which are extreme or overtly racist. The research design will include the following steps: the creation of a comparative database using common software, an inventory of the main thematic fields of ethno-cultural representation, a quantitative analysis of formal text characteristics, a qualitative interpretation of the language of difference and expressions of the ‘Other’, and the construction of indices of tolerance and intolerance (TI) for each publication. The analysis will be innovative in a number of ways: the sample will include the press in Russian and other languages (Tatar, Kazakh, Uzbek and Tadzhik) not so far studied in a comparative framework; secondly, the contrast between capitals and regions, a key issue in the federal and NIS context, will be made explicit; thirdly, it will combine quantitative and qualitative data; and fourthly it will bring together the multidisciplinary expertise of the partners from INTAS as well as the NIS (in social and political sciences, language and interaction, and journalism). The make-up of the consortium is designed to bring new expertise in text description, discourse analysis and membership categorization analysis to bear on the research questions. The policy objective of the project is to use the results to deliver a scientifically sound and replicable methodological instrument in the form of simplified ‘TI indices’ for the comparative evaluation of press performance. These outcomes will be disseminated to journalism researchers, editors and other professionals in the field, including NGOs active in communications and human right issues.