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Svetlana Lebedeva, head of a chair, candidate of philosophy, associate professor
Yana Starovoytova, ученый секретарь, candidate of chemistry, associate professor
Volgograd State Technical University, Russia
Championship participant: the National Research Analytics Championship - "Russia";
The present research paper is an attempt to highlight the development of medium-sized cities in the context of global modernization. The results of the study of moral and spiritual values of the residents of Volzhsky city (Russia) are presented, as well as the problems and growth points of medium-sized cities as transfer stations of the global economy are depicted.
Keywords: medium-sized city, social studies, moral and spiritual values of townspeople in the 21th century.
The city is today the quintessence of human civilization, it is its nerve centre. Taking place in cities processes have an impact on the life of entire society.
The modern global economy is particularly the economy of cities, city is now a home to half the world's population, and every year city's population increases by 65 million people. Cities produce more than 80 percent of global GDP, and the 600 largest urban centres (City 600), with a population of over one billion, accounting for about 60 percent of global GDP.
With increasing globalisation, more and more conditions are created for strengthening the presence in the global space of different scale spatial-territorial units, including medium-sized cities. In such cities the dynamics of the processes is determined by the special position they occupy between the urban agglomerations and rural settlements and a presence in their scientific and industrial potential, which greatly enhances their competitiveness .
For a theoretical understanding and practical understanding of the role of medium-sized cities in the global development, a new conceptual approach is needed, that is based on the latest technologies and developments in the field of urban planning, the development of the world economy. Most features of medium-sized cities in the world are defined by their status, their institutional nature, the set of informal institutions, and the mentality formed by city life.
The middle-sized city, which is the subject of numerous scientific studies of different fields of knowledge, is still not verified as the scientific definition. In international practice, the assignment of a city to the group of large, medium, or small cities in most cases is done by one of the criteria, in particular such as the number of permanent inhabitants (population size parameter), and each state sets its own criteria for identifying groups of cities, but even in this case, there is no single approach to the identification in the legislative and regulatory documents of different government subdivisions.
Classification of the city to a particular category creates a prerequisite for their evolutionary development or regression, for obtaining guaranteed forms of support from the government. Until recently, the Russian allocation of types of cities was based on the Town Planning Code, in which urban and rural settlements were divided into several categories depending on the number of inhabitants with several subcategories.
The new edition of the Town Planning Code (as amended on 27.07.2010 N 226-FZ) classification of cities was abolished. Today in the laws and regulations of the Government of the Russian Federation, we can observe different interpretations category of “average cities”.
For example, in documents of the National Population Census of 2010, we find the distribution of cities in five categories without specifying their names. And in the Statute of the Russian competition for the title of “Most comfortable city in Russia” the following division of cities into categories is observed: I. The city is the administrative centre of subjects the Russian Federation; II. Medium-sized cities with a population of 100 thousand or more; III. Cities and towns with a population of up to 100 thousand.
The federal target program “Clean Water” for the period 2011-2017 provides following interpretation of the small towns: “in order to enhance the processes for the development of water supply, wastewater and sewage treatment in small cities population […] up to 100 thousand people, […] it is necessary to provide public financial support for the implementation of regional development programs for water […]”, that is the upper limit of small towns within the 100 thousand people. and, following the logic of the argument, it should be a lower bound of middle-sized cities.
The upper limit of medium-sized cities in Russia should set at around 500 thousand, as evidenced by publications of scientists and expert research. Then, according to the census of the population of Russia in 2010, of the 1100 cities in Russia 85% (936) make up the city with a population of 100 thousand people, 67% of the population lives in urban areas with more than 100 thousand people, 12 cities have a population of more 1 million people, there are 25 cities with a population of 500 thousand to 1 million, 36 cities with a population of 250 thousand to 500, 91 cities with a population of 100 thousand to 250 thousand.
Thus, there are 127 medium-sized cities in Russia. Results of the 2010 Census showed a sharp increase in population in only one group, namely a group of medium-sized cities, while decreasing in others, particularly in rural areas.
The issue of improving urban governance is on the agenda the European Union because, according to sociologists, by 2030, more than eighty percent of Europeans will be living in cities.
The European Parliament in its strategy relies on small and medium-sized cities as there it is easier to implement new initiatives to test their viability and effectiveness.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) classified to medium-sized cities (“medium-sized urban areas”) city with a population of 200,000 to 500,000 people . Today, China's rulers believe that in urbanistics one should pursue “a policy of moderation and non-scalability”, that cities with a population of up to half of million are a far more robust and stable. With all the variety and diversity of medium-sized cities in the world is one goal: to make them safe, green, comfortable, and wealthy.
From a sociological point of view the middle-sized city is research interest, above all, as a specific form of human community and its integrity can be revealed by understanding the social nature and the laws of its development.
From this perspective, the city can be defined as a socio-spatial entity with social and spatial environment are in constant interaction and interpenetration. Sociology explores the city from the perspective of social processes as a condition for the optimum life of different groups and categories of the urban population that can meet their needs in work, housing, communication, organization, and leisure activities .
Transformation of all spheres of public life in Russia in recent years has shined a new light on an important source of life and needs of the people – their habitat. It became increasingly perceived not only as a place to set certain conditions and values, but also as a place of real connections and relationships that define the quality of life and a measure of its stability.
There are many approaches for studying the environment in a city and the most famous one is economic, that is, that the city produces, what its potential is, etc.
Natural landscape approach assesses the resources of the city, its natural and climatic conditions and opportunities for use in architecture and design of the city. Socio-cultural approach, that implies two poles with opposite function and meaning, “culture” and “society”.
Culture of any nation is a national identity formed by language, folklore, and psychology. Social and cultural are two sides of the same coin, they can not be separated from each other. What is the result of this misunderstanding? Russian Caucasians, brought up in the spirit of their culture, encounter difficulties fitting into social relationships outside their ancestral homeland. New social role of “Volzhanin” prepared for them requires some “ritual sacrifice” or alienation from their own national environment and the internalisation of new rules.
Therefore, the process of social and cultural development is controversial, because cultural activities, meanings and values, and social activities is a joint activity of people, which necessarily must be a common goal or idea.
Research makes it clear that it is important to consider how the middle-sized city provides for itself the preservation and transmission of socially necessary experience that would ensure translation of the right kinds of social life, that is, socio-cultural complex of the city.
With the city's ability to integrate more and more new social structures, it can be defined as a communicative space in which a variety of social groups “get on”, the energy of which “feeds” the urban space, allows to form “the spirit of the city”, which makes it, by Aristotle's definition, “unity of different”.
To study the socio-cultural processes in the modern world of medium-sized cities it becomes very important to develop constructive ideas that reveal the path of socio-cultural processes.
There comes the understanding that the impulses occur in the development of human culture, which defines the way of further changes and forms an image of the future. Cultural values that determine the identity of the society as a whole, the individual layers, and groups, form the attitude to work, family, health, society may consolidate or split it.
Thus, the culture can provide a dynamic resource for the success of social development or, alternatively, provoke its failure. One cannot but agree that the most important processes of transformation of modern society and culture at this stage are related to phenomena such as virtualisation, visualisation, information.
Modern information and communication system radically changes the conditions for cultural exchange and interpersonal communication. It successfully erases the spatial, temporal, social, language and other barriers. Identity problem is brought forth with the increase in information processes in the city. For the middle-sized city, as a sociocultural phenomenon, gaining the identity associated with a term such as the brand of the city, which is helping the city to compete and attract immigration, financial and information flows.
Over the years, residents of Volzhskiy (Volgograd Olast, Russia) were proud of their city as a city of Chemistry, Energy, Engineering, and later were proud of if as the most green and comfortable city in Russia. Such images link the past, present and future of the city, giving confidence in the future.
Using a sociocultural potential for the development of Volzhskiy effectively due to its proportionality with human capabilities is the optimum density of interpersonal relations, the availability of most important places, convenient infrastructure, etc. Moreover, it is in the middle-sized city where the potential of social and cultural importance as a factor for sustainable and harmonious development of the city develops fully.
Urban environment, the most international in the world, the city levels most working and living conditions of the population.
But, what is surprising, the unification of the whole city is not similar, as there cannot be a single urban culture. Uniqueness and identity of the city is that which generates a kaleidoscope of bizarre configuration forms of urban life. What is the reason?
This is due, above all, to the qualitative characteristics of the city, which include: the level of social differentiation activities, territory and space, social and cultural heterogeneity, the level of socio-cultural mobility, the level of socio-cultural dynamics, the level of variability and alternative consciousness and behavior, intensity socio-spacial mobility, wide varieties of opportunities of the behaviour choices, the level of innovation activity, information rich environment, personal localization of urban life, personal choice of bases and strategies of behaviour.
Among the socio-cultural factors in the development of middle-sized city the special importance is given to the spiritual and moral condition of the citizens, especially young people. Spiritual and moral values affect the inner world of each person, and through this prism the views on life, society, and the state are formed.
A team of researchers in the past five years conducted research on social and cultural preferences of Volzhanins, studied their moral and spiritual values, the specific features of the way of life, social well-being, the degree of satisfaction with work and life. A survey conducted in the city of Volzhskiy correlated with the data nationwide studies.
It turned out that the basic moral and spiritual national values, is currently dominated by conscious Volzhan, like most Russians, in general, are patriotism and family (Table 1).
List the most important, in your opinion ethical and spiritual national values, which dominate the consciousness of Russian today
Frequency of mention, %
Moral principles (honesty, conscience, loyalty, respect, responsibility, etc.)
Professional self-realisation, work ethic
Personal qualities (decency, honesty, having principles, etc.)
Rights and freedoms, political values (democracy, equal rights, etc.)
Individual, social, and state security
Optimism and the ability to survive difficulties
Love of nature
However, the proportion of respondents among the dominant moral and spiritual values of these categories, which can be called "anti-values", for example, the loss of social reference points (failure of law and accepted norms of behaviour), greed, cynicism, indifference, immorality, cultural restrictions, xenophobia, extremism, nationalism.
Most of the respondents believed that the spiritual rapprochement of people, above all, promote the common cultural values and traditions. More than half of respondents would like to live by the principles of social justice. Volzhanins as most inhabitants of the middle-sized cities, rather tolerant “to the conditions of life” and would like to change them only through reform and democratic change.
Thus, the middle-sized city has some special properties that form the basis of socio-economic stability, cultural norms and traditions, is a self-organizing mechanism of the interaction of socio-cultural spaces of social communities, they determine the conditions for the development of existing urban communities on the basis of self-organization.
The middle-sized city is a platform on which development model of “best cities” can be implemented to create a comfortable environment (compared to the big cities), the environment that is green, environmentally friendly, and devoid of stress.