The research was conducted by the Social Research Center of Sumy State University in March-June 2021. It was realized within the Ukrainian Think Tank Development Initiative (implemented by the International Renaissance Foundation and the Open Society Initiative for Europe; funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine).
Via online questionnaires, 1530 people were polled. They were over 18 years old (in local communities of Ivano-Frankivsk, Mykolaiv, Sumy and Cherkasy Regions). The representativeness error probability was 0.95 (up to 4%).
The 2014 Russian aggression (the Crimea annexation) and COVID-19 became challenges to test the Ukrainian social resilience. The main analysis issues were: outer risk influence (military situations and COVID-19) on public unity; citizens’ resistance to threats; challenge overcoming ways; cooperation readiness; trust to state and local authorities, civil institutes; social change via participation.
Social protection feeling
The research results show that absence of social-economic protection among citizens is a factor to decrease resilience and increase vulnerability to inner and outer threats. 64% of respondents regard their wealth as vulnerable: 46.7% satisfy only basic needs; 18% lack for even basic cash (food, utilities, drugs).
The greatest threats are price rise for main goods and drugs, utility rate growth (87.5%), economic crisis (82.7%), COVID-19 (81.7%).
Also, there is an obvious underestimation of the Donbas War and propaganda (respectively, they are threats for 56.2% and 46.2%).
COVID-19 affected public life significantly. We see wealth fall (47.6%), illnesses (44.4%), security decrease (41.3%).
Public unity and participation assessment
Family members remain a basis of the Ukrainian social unity. In case of a worse COVID-19 situation, 78% expected family support; 55.4% asked for help during the year; 61.2% provided aid. Besides, 62% rely on themselves only. The Ivano-Frankivsk community relies on nobody. The Mykolaiv Region residents rely on themselves. The Sumy community trusts family members, friends and colleagues. Females resorted to relatives and friends. On the contrary, males needed no such help.
Meanwhile, only 6.2% of Ukrainians accept volunteers’ and public aid. That of local authorities, region and central authorities, religious organizations is obtained for 5.8%, 3.9% and 3.8%, respectively. Friends’ help is expected less for people with lack of cash (22.8% – under basic needs; 27.7% – only basic needs). It is expected more for persons affording clothes and devices with minimal savings (39.4%) or affording all they need (38.6%). Therefore, we see social isolation of vulnerable population groups.
Within the pandemic spread, 61.2% provided aid in their families. For friends/colleagues, strangers, volunteers and civil organizations, medical or other professional facilities, religious groups, that was done by 44.3%, 7.3%, 4.3%, 3.8% and 2.8%, respectively. Citizens’ wealth promotes their readiness to help the others in case of challenges. It may indicate a low public involvement and civil detachment from community life.
34.1% battle for own interests rather than understand how to influence authorities. 28.8% know about public participation rather than believe in authority change. 21.8% do not care this issue at all. Frequently, respondents are not familiar with the existing public participation tools (never mind their use).
According to the research results, the team provided recommendations to raise social resilience through:
– Horizontal unity (target programs of family supplies; strong intergenerational relations; family aid services; civil society institutes as local change agents);
– Inequality elimination (no employment, service or participation barriers for vulnerable people; target programs for gypsies, displaced or disabled persons, etc.);
– Security assurance (family anti-violence programs; community mediation; trainings to resist inner and outer threats, including propaganda; communication and mutual understanding between different society groups; tolerance among people and authorities);
– Vertical unity (interaction between authorities and citizens via electronic democracy and participation; local cooperation of vulnerable groups, open dialogue platforms and consultative entities; transparent partnership between authorities and communities).
Andriana Kostenko – DSc in Politology, associate professor, chief of the Social Research Center
Nina Svitailo – PhD in Philosophy, associate professor
Andrii Lebid – DSc in Philosophy, professor
Mykola Nazarov – PhD in Politology
Olenka Kupenko – DSc in Pedagogy, associate professor
Valentyna Opanasiuk – PhD in Politology, associate professor
Volodymyr Pavlenko – analyst
Yuliia Panchenko – PhD in History
Kristina Sakhno – expert of the Social Research Center
Hanna Yevsieieva – expert of the Social Research Center
Mariia Prystupa – trainee expert of the Social Research Center
Natalia Taran – cover design (generated via canva.com)
Full report (in Ukrainian): https://essuir.sumdu.edu.ua/bitstream-download/123456789/85720/1/Kostenko_social_sustainability.pdf?fbclid=IwAR29cfBoWHqIVnhf0l01emD3lMxjm4gKuZn3WYkb7sKK4vZUvAbx5u3PaKA