Managing stereotypes about Russians in Northern Norway through the Barents Regional Youth Programme
Norway and Russia are partners and neighbours with a rich history of cooperation. Many different cooperation projects are being conducted between the two countries nowadays. The level of contact is also diverse: between ordinary people, business partners, politicians, scholars, etc. However, the existence of stereotypes affects both parties in the communication process. Stereotypical thinking leads to erroneous judgments and formation of incorrect ideas about a social group. Often stereotypical thinking creates barriers for effective cooperation and communication. It causes misunderstanding, unpleasant experiences, distrust, disagreements, conflicts, and even hostility. This arises from the fact that stereotypes shape behavior; they form prejudices and opinions that are difficult to change. In this study I have investigated the phenomena of stereotyping and cross-cultural understanding. I have chosen to focus on the stereotypes about Russians in Northern Norway. I have examined cooperation as a tool for reducing the influence of stereotypes on formation of impressions about people. I have chosen the Barents Regional Youth Programme as a concrete example of the Norwegian-Russian cooperation. Establishment of contacts among youth is prioritized by the Barents Regional Council, because the youth are the future of the region and their good relations are crucial for the stability in the region. Cross-cultural understanding is an integral basis for fruitful cooperation. The conception of this project has been motivated by my scholar interest to combine knowledge about stereotypes, cross-cultural understanding and cooperation and to test their effects in the context of the Norwegian-Russian Barents Cooperation. This research can help us get a deeper understanding of this issue, and develop ideas on how to make people not judge others on the bases of stereotypes. It will expand our insight on possible ways to understand other cultures.
ForlagUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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