August 4, 2016

Trust towards political institutions: variations from titular ethnicity to ethnic minority in Azerbaijan and Georgia

By Mariam Arakelyan
CRRC-Armenia Program Assistant

Trust towards political institutions strengthens the legitimacy, stability and efficiency of any government. Distrust can be very helpful to encourage the government to work better, but at the same time distrust costs alienation and withdrawal from the political processes, as well as results in a fragile state that is unable to mobilize national resources or shape a collective vision for national development (Dimond, 2007). There is no consensus in scientific literature regarding the potential causes of trust. While, some scholars, attribute trust toward the institutions to cultural norms (Mishler, Rose,2001 ) others consider trust as an expected utility of institutions performing satisfactorily (Coleman, 1990; Dasgupta, 1988; Hetherington, 1998 as cited in Mishler, Rose, 2001). 

Trust becomes more crucial for multi-ethnic countries that have the responsibility to protect the rights of ethnic minorities, including indigenous people. It can well be the case that in such countries ethnic minorities exhibit lower level of trust toward political institutions than the ethnic majority, as they may face problems of integration, can remain highly underrepresented in central and local government and administration as well as can be socially, economically and culturally marginalized. The aim of this blogpost is understand the level of trust ethnic minorities exhibit toward the political institutions in the two countries of the South Caucasus: Georgia and Azerbaijan. Armenia is excluded from the analysis as it is a mono-ethnic country, with the majority of the population being ethnic Armenians. 

The fact that relatively large communities of ethnic minorities live compactly in Georgia and Azerbaijan allows us to compare a data of one administrative unit populated by ethnic minority with a similar unit populated by the title ethnicity. Particularly, in the case of Georgia the regions of Kvemo Kartli (45% of ethnic Azerbaijanis[1]) and Samtskhe-Javakheti (54.5 % of ethnic Armenians) will be compared to the region of Imereti (99% of ethnic Georgians). In the case of Azerbaijan the Economic administrative unit of Quba-Xaçmaz (with compact population of Lezgians) will be compared to Dağlıq Şirvan (majority of ethnic Azerbaijanis).

For the analysis the 2013 wave of the Caucasus Barometer survey is utilized[2]. Trust toward the President, toward the Parliament and toward the Government is the main variables under scrutiny. Respondents were asked following question “Please assess your level of trust toward each of the political and social institutions on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ means “Fully distrust”, and ‘5’ means “Fully trust”.

Chart 1 depicts respondents’ trust toward the political institutions in the Georgian regions under scrutiny. 

                                Chart 1
Note: The original question: “Please assess your level of trust toward each of them on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ means “Fully distrust”, and ‘5’ means “Fully trust”. How much do you trust or distrust /country’s/…?” The original question was recoded: answer options “Fully trust” and “Somewhat trust” into “Trust” and answer options “Somewhat distrust” and “Fully distrust” into “Distrust”.
According to the Chart1 people in Kvemo Kartli expresses higher level of trust toward the president, the government and the parliament compared with Imereti and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions. In Kvemo Kartli 53% of population show trust, while 51% of Imereti population express their distrust for president (At the time of fieldwork (October 3-27, 2013) incumbent president in Georgia was Mikheil Saakashvili)[2], which opposes the suggested hypothesis. Moreover, “Do not know” is the answer of 20% and 17% of Kvemo Kartli population for the trust respectively toward the Parliament and the Government. At the same time, Chart 1 presents the fact that population of Samtskhe-Javakheti has the most accentuated indifference toward the political institutions, as the level of “neither trust nor distrust” for all three institutions is higher than it has been expressed by the people living in remaining two regions and the lowest level of “Distrust” among the Georgian regions. 

                                Chart 2
Note: The original question: “Please assess your level of trust toward each of them on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ means “Fully distrust”, and ‘5’ means “Fully trust”. How much do you trust or distrust /country’s/…?” The original question was recoded: answer options “Fully trust” and “Somewhat trust” into “Trust” and answer options “Somewhat distrust” and “Fully distrust” into “Distrust”.
The case of Azerbaijan also seems not support the suggested hypothesis as the population of Quba-Xaçmaz, populated by ethnic minorities expresses as much trust as that of Dağlıq Şirvan. Interestingly, the trust toward the president is very high in both regions. Particularly, in Dağlıq Şirvan 77% of the respondents trust the president, while in Quba-Xaçmaz only 60%.

The current analysis seems to be in conflict with the reports on Azerbaijan that suggest minority right protection problems and harassment. However, it can also be the case that the respondents are unwilling to answer to the questions sincerely as the freedom of speech is heavily constrained in Azerbaijan. 

In sum, the blogpost fails to find a relationship between being an ethnic minority and expressing distrust toward political institutions in the two republics of the South Caucasus: Georgia and Azerbaijan.

[1] Please note that Caucasus Barometer survey is representative for countries but is not representative for administrative units, therefore results are made with reservation.. Trust toward the President, toward the Parliament and toward the Government is the main variables under scrutiny. Respondents were asked following question “Please assess your level of trust toward each of the political and social institutions on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ means “Fully distrust”, and ‘5’ means “Fully trust”. 
[2] Data of National Statistical Service of Georgia (2002), which during last decade showed increasing tendency

July 12, 2016

Social Alienation of Syrian-Armenian Immigrants in Armenia: Sociological Analysis

By Shushan Ghahriyan
CRRC-Armenia Yerevan State University Scholarship Holder

The Syrian crisis, started in 2011, forced many Syrian-Armenians to leave Syria and resettle in Armenia. Followed by the challenges brought by war, in Armenia they faced problems that are common for the locals as well. Thus the research is focused on bringing out the manifestations of social alienation among Syrian-Armenians.
To analyze the phenomenon of social alienation among Syrian-Armenian immigrants we will refer to M. Seeman's (1959) approach to social alienation who defines the concept in terms of powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation and self-estrangement. Later, isolation was divided into social isolation and cultural isolation (Middleton, 1963).

According to our results, powerlessness predominantly refers to inability to control desired outcomes of behavior and it is mainly expressed in socio-political situations. Respondents most often mention that they cannot change anything in Armenia, cannot improve their conditions as mostly everything depends on the Government and changes should come from there. This feeling of powerlessness is connected to the fact that Syrian-Armenians do not yet consider themselves as a part of the Armenian society.  
Social isolation
Powerlessness is closely related to social isolation. According to the interviews we can say that social isolation causes the feeling of powerlessness. When talking about social isolation we need to take into account the place of origin of Syrian-Armenians. In contrary to the ones from Allepo (a large city in Syria), people from Qamishli (a small city with strong community ties), feel more isolated as they cannot restore former ties and relationships as well as the community life they used to have.
Cultural estrangement
Cultural estrangement manifests in value differences. Syrian-Armenians are affected by oriental culture and this has its effects on their outlook. It was also mentioned that Syrian-Armenians are more business-minded than the locals.
Normlessness mainly refers to the ineffectiveness of laws. Usually problems in Armenia are being solved through “mediators”, people who are considered as informal problem solvers. This way of problem solving is very common in the Armenian reality. Thus we can say that this institute of “mediators” is to some extent a social capital in the Armenian society. From this viewpoint normlessness is not as obvious as other dimensions of alienation among Syrian-Armenians because they do not have the relevant social networks through whom it would be possible to solve problems in Armenia. Thus they rely only on formal, legal regulations which do not function properly.
Switching to the next dimension that is meaninglessness we should mention that it is connected with the person's past experience in different aspects and spheres. The notions of meaninglessness can be divided into two parts. The first is that it is meaningful to start a new initiative in Armenia, to have long-time plans, as Armenia is desired and sweet homeland for Syrian-Armenians and they still think that it is worth linking future with it. The second is that everything is uncertain in Armenia and one cannot predict what will happen in the near future. That's why they do not see any meaning in initiating, creating, planning something.
And the last dimension of social alienation is self-estrangement. It mainly refers to the situation when Syrian-Armenians lost something from their self. Most of Syrian-Armenian immigrants cannot realize themselves in Armenia as they do in Syria. When talking about self-estrangement first of all we should mention the loss of prestige and respect they had in Syria. We can state that self-estrangement is more specific to men. As for women, here in Armenia they have more opportunities for self-realization which was difficult in Syria surrounded by Muslims who have their strong rules concerning women.

To sum up, we should mention that these issues if not solved can deepen the feeling of alienation and create obstacles for integration to the society in Armenia.

About YSU Scholarship
Highly appreciating partnership with Yerevan State University and strong commitment to contribute to the excellence of social science research in Armenia, Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC)-Armenia has launched Yerevan State University Scholarship program in 2014. The goal of the program is to encourage young researchers, who make their first steps in social science research. For that purpose, CRRC-Armenia provides single-time financial support to two Master’s students from the departments of Sociology, and Economics and Management to allocate resources for field organization and first-hand high-quality data collection and analysis for their master thesis. 

April 26, 2016

Does education make a difference in attitude towards homosexuality in Armenia?

By Mane Adamyan
CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow

Theoretically, the aim of the education is not only to provide people with basic knowledge and technical skills in a particular sphere but also to shape their worldview and critical thinking. During their education, individuals are introduced to lifestyles and new ideas, interact with their peers and get acquainted with nonconformity which gradually becomes natural. Prior empirical work (Ohlanderet al., 2005; Lambertet al., 2006; Treas,2002, Loftus,2001) evidenced a positive correlation between education and tolerance towards sexual minorities. However, the case of Armenia is understudied in the literature.
Stemming from the above-mentioned  discussion, this blog post aims at revealing the relationship between education and attitude towards homosexuality in the Republic of Armenia.  

The question below measures the tolerance towards homosexuality:

 “To what extent do you agree with the following statements?”[1]

  1.       Male homosexuality is a perversion.
  2.       Female homosexuality is a perversion.
Since the gender of the respondent may bias the perception of different types of homosexuality (e.g., male respondent may be more tolerant towards female homosexuals than male homosexuals), the above-mentioned question is split into sub-questions to account for that phenomenon.

As depicted in Chart 1, Armenian public has highly negative views towards gays and lesbians. Only 6% of the respondents disagree that male homosexuality is a perversion. Similarly, only 4% of the respondents believe that women should not be “condemned” for their sexual orientation.

Chart 1
Note: The answer options for the statements “Male homosexuality is a perversion” and “Female homosexuality is a perversion” were grouped as follows: “Strongly disagree” and “Somewhat disagree” were grouped into “Disagree” while “Strongly agree” and “Somewhat agree” were grouped into “Agree”. 

Regarding the education profile of the respondents, out of 977 only 333 have higher education, 597 completed secondary education, 40 have only primary education and 7 respondents are students, applicants or pupils. 

Chart 2
Note: The answer options for the question, “Education” were grouped as follows: options “Illiterate”, “Primary education” and “Basic education” were recoded into “Primary education”. Options “Secondary education”, “Vocational education” and “Secondary technical education” were recoded into “Secondary education”.  Options “Incomplete higher education”, “Higher education” and “Postgraduate” were recoded into “Higher education”.

Chart 3 illustrates the results of the cross-tabulation analysis. It shows that 85% of the highly educated individuals who participated in the survey express negative attitude towards female homosexuality. In case of respondents with secondary education this statistics primes to 96%. The attitude towards male homosexuality is similar to that of female homosexuality. In particular, 81% of the respondents with higher education express negative attitude towards male homosexuals. For respondents with secondary education this result increases to 94%.

Chart 3

In sum, we evidence almost no effect of education on positive attitude towards sexual minorities in the Republic of Armenia. The explanation for this phenomenon can be fewfold. First, Armenian society is highly religious. In particular, more than 80% of the respondents accept to be religious according to the Caucasus Barometer (2015)[2]. Second, given the traditional nature of the Armenian society, family is considered as a supreme value, which may undermine the effect of education on respondents’ attitudes towards sexual minorities.

[1] Social Attitudes towards LGBTI people in Armenia”, [2015]. “Public Information and Need of Knowledge” NGO in Armenia, in cooperation with Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group NGO from Georgia, within the frames of the project “Solidarity Network for LGBTI in Armenia and Georgia” financed by Heinrich Böll Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office, are carrying out a comprehensive study of social attitudes towards LGBTI people, including a survey carried out by CRRC-Armenia. The results of this research will be presented in July, 2016.
[2] Caucasus Barometer is a nationwide household survey with over 6,800 respondents across the South Caucasus. It runs annually in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia based on the same methodological approach and the same survey instrument.

February 24, 2016

Public Awareness on Personal Information Security in Armenia

By Mariam Arakelyan
CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow

On July 1st, 2015 the RA Law on Protection of Personal Information came into force.  Even though this law replaced the RA Law on Personal data (2002), the notions of “protection of personal information” or “the security of personal information” are relatively new to the Armenian reality.

To understand individuals’ awareness of what kind of personal information they can obtain, of how their personal information can be used as well as of the means of personal information protection, a small scale pilot survey was administered in Yerevan, Shirak and Syunik regions from November 15 to December 10, 2015 upon the request of the Personal Data Protection Agency of the Ministry of Justice[1].

Regarding the sample composition, 279 adult (18+) residents of the Republic of Armenia took part in this survey, among whom 111 are male and 168 are female, at the same time 144 of them live in capital, 74 in urban and 61 in rural areas.

The aim of this blogpost is to provide a brief discussion of the findings of the survey.
According to the results, 61% of respondents don’t know that in line with the RA law on Protection of Personal Information they have a right to get acquainted with, demand and receive the information on them kept by the state and private organizations. 

                               Chart 1
Note: The original question: “Are you aware, that according to the RA law on Protection of Personal Information you have a right to know, demand and receive the information that organizations (state and private) possess about you?

Moreover, 62% of the respondents don’t read how the personal information they provide when signing a contract or agreement can be used.

                               Chart 2
Note: The original question: “Do you get acquainted to the points how information about you can be used by the other side while signing contract or agreement?”
When breaking the data by age, gender and settlement type, one does not observe notable differences (the results of the analysis are available upon request). 

Almost half of the respondents (47%) are not interested whether they are videotaped or not in the public places, at the same time only 16% considers it unacceptable (Chart 3).  Along with these data, approximately the same share of respondents (46%) are not worried that organization can keep their personal information.

                               Chart 3 
Note: The original question: “Are you worried that organizations (state and private) can follow you or publicize your activity in specific area using the cameras located in the public places?”

                              Chart 4
Note: The original question: “Are you worried that organizations (state and private) can possess your personal information. Please, mention reasons of your concern?”

Regarding the online behavior of the individuals, 49 % of the respondents don’t have profiles in any social network (these people predominantly belong to 46-65 age-group). Among those who have profiles 42% keep their profiles open only for friends, 41% for everyone, while 17% only for selected people. 

                                     Chart 5

There are fewer males with no profiles in social networks (29% of those who don’t use social networks) than females (71%). Furthermore, it seems that older individuals are less likely to have social network profiles. In particular, 65% of those who don’t have social network profiles belong to 46-65 age-group.

To conclude there seems to exist high level of illiteracy and indifference regarding personal data protection (at least among our survey respondents). In particular, the majority of the respondents are not aware of their rights on personal data protection or concerned with data security.

[1] Data was used in the Agency’s annual report as a preliminary assessment of the current state of personal data protection. 

See the summarized data in infographics below.

February 15, 2016

Are employed people in South Caucasus satisfied with their jobs?

By Aneta Harutyunyan
CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow

Employee satisfaction is one of the ultimate goals of any organization as it can enhance the performance of the business as well as decrease employee turnover (Javed, Balouch, Hassan 2014). Employee satisfaction can be affected by a number of socio-demographic factors such as age, gender, occupation, the level of education, as well as by salary/compensation (Clark,Oswald and Warr 1996, Ganzach 2003, Kaiser 2005, Qasim, Cheema and Syed 2012). Utilizing the 2013 wave of Caucasus Barometer survey conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers, the current blog post aims at examining the relationship between job satisfaction and remuneration in the three republics of the South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. For this purpose, the following questions are examined:
  1.  “To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?"
     “I am fairly compensated.”
  2. “Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with your job?”
Before proceeding with the analysis of the results, it is worth mentioning the small share of employment rate in the three republics. In particular, according to the Caucasus Barometer survey only 25% of the respondents are employed in Armenia (462 respondents out of 1840), 29% in Azerbaijan (582 respondents out of 2004) and 23% in Georgia (491 respondents out of 2137) [1]  (CaucasusBarometer 2013). 

As depicted in Chart 1, among the three countries employed respondents of Azerbaijan comprise majority who agree that they are fairly compensated (61%). In contrast to those in Azerbaijan, the majority of employed people in Armenia and Georgia consider their remuneration as unfair (66% and 51%, respectively). 

                             Chart 1
Note: The original question on fair compensation was recoded. Answer options “Completely agree”, “Somewhat agree” were recoded into “Agree”, and similarly, “Completely disagree”, “Somewhat disagree” options were combined into “Disagree”.

Analyzing the second question, we can again identify noticeable differences in the level of job satisfaction across the three countries. In particular, as shown in Chart 2, while in Azerbaijan the majority of the respondents (73%) are satisfied with their jobs, in Armenia and Georgia the satisfaction drops to 32% and 34%, respectively. In Armenia and Georgia, the majority of the employed respondents (41% and 50%, respectively) are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with their jobs. 

                             Chart 2
Note: The original question on the overall level of job satisfaction was recoded. Answer options “Very satisfied”, “Somewhat satisfied” were combined into “Satisfied”, and similarly, “Very dissatisfied”, “Somewhat dissatisfied” were combined into “Dissatisfied”. “Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied” was not recoded.  

As a next step, cross-tabulation is implemented to identify a possible relationship between job satisfaction and employee compensation. As Chart 3 illustrates, there seems to be a strong relationship between job satisfaction and employee remuneration in Azerbaijan. Particularly, 87% of those employed respondents, who agreed that they are fairly compensated, are satisfied with their jobs. This relationship drops to 52% and 55% in Armenia and Georgia, respectively.

                             Chart 3
In summary, analyzing the results of two interrelated questions of the 2013 wave of the Caucasus Barometer survey, this blog post revealed a weak relationship between employee compensation and job satisfaction. In particular, out of three countries, we identified that Armenia and Georgia showed the weakest positive relationship (i.e., people who consider to be fairly compensated are satisfied with their jobs) between these two variables.  

[1] Please note that this blog post considers only those who have a job (employee).
It is also noteworthy that the results of Caucasus Barometer 2013 survey vary from those of the International Labor Organization and National Statistics offices of the three countries by reason of difference in formulation of the question. 

Caucasus Barometer 2013 

December 15, 2015

Civic Engagement in Local Governance Survey in Armenia

By Caucasus Research Resource Center-Armenia 

On December 11, the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC)-Armenia presented the results of the public opinion survey on civic engagement in local governance.

The survey revealed that the public at large was not well informed on local government related issues. Conducted within the framework of the USAID-funded Civic Engagement in Local Governance (CELoG) project, the survey showed that 87 percent of the respondents were not familiar with the decisions made by their local government bodies, and 91 percent did not know the size of their municipal budget. 73 percent of the respondents knew the head of their community, while 48 percent did not know the members of their local council.

In terms of public attitudes towards and knowledge of the Government of Armenia’s community consolidation and decentralization reforms, the survey revealed that 59 percent of the respondents did not know anything about them, and 47 percent expected that the consolidation would negatively impact their community. Only 24 percent believed that the community consolidation reform would have a positive impact.

Regarding municipal services, only 12 percent of the respondents were satisfied, with 47 percent somewhat satisfied and 36 percent not satisfied with the performance of their local governments. The survey also revealed lack of trust towards and low transparency in local government operations, noting that community members often resort to using personal connections, social status, and at times bribery to resolve their issues.

The nation-wide household survey among 1,500 randomly selected adult respondents examined public awareness of Armenia’s local government system, satisfaction of services provided by the local governments, engagement of citizens in community-related decision-making, as well as public attitudes toward the ongoing community consolidation reform. The study served to establish a baseline for these areas, which will be used to measure future knowledge and behavior change achieved through the CELoG project.  

The survey results are a snapshot of the level of awareness of local governance and citizens’ perceptions about their local governments’ efficiency and accountability vis-à-vis their expectations at the outset of the CELoG project. The results are also of interest for policy makers, experts, local government officials, and international donor organizations.