“Almaty is a city for people and people for the city”
Urban Forum Almaty 2015, Main findings
(The study was conducted by the Media System Agency
1. To determine the socio-cultural portrait (identity) of a resident of Almaty, the research group asked a number of questions, the first of which was borrowed from the method of Charles Cooley. It is based on the definition of social statuses and roles that are dominant for the individual. The authors of the method believe that the main characteristic of the “I” is the ability to become an object of development for him/herself, and external social control is transformed into self-control, society appears to be inside the “I”.
The results of the street survey showed that residents of the southern capital usually describe themselves as mother / father (37%), human being (27%), citizen of Kazakhstan (26%), woman / man (20%).
The group of secondary social roles included specialists (9%), personality (7%), as well as family statuses of the spouse, grandfather and grandmother, daughter and son (8%, 7% and 5%, respectively).
The result obtained indicates a high concentration of family status in respondents’ answers to the question of self-identification.
2. By listing the distinctive qualities of the Almaty citizen, respondents often pay attention to positive character traits and behavioral features of citizens. Thus, a typical resident of the southern capital is described as a man demonstrating a high culture of behavior (26%), benevolent (14%) and open (7%).
Negative qualities are called much less often, among them fussiness (3%), rigidity, arrogance, “show off” and rejection of national traditions (1% each).
3. Among the people whom Almaty citizens consider worthy of the title of “honorary inhabitant of the city” are politics (36%), musicians (33%), writers and poets (10%), athletes (7%) and filmmakers (7%), etc. The persons proposed by the citizens number about 80 names.
4. The top three candidates for the title of the main symbol of the former capital were: the high-mountain ice rink Medeo (38%), the apple, including the Aport cultivars (21%) and Mount Koktobe with the television tower (10%).
In addition to the listed objects-symbols of the city, the respondents called the buildings of “Kazakhstan” hotel, SATOB named after Abay, the Palace of the Republic, the ski resort of Chimbulak.
5. For all age groups, the uniqueness of the city lies in its surrounding nature. More than half of survey participants (67%) list the mountain landscape, glaciers of Zailiysky Alatau, picturesque lakes and waterfalls as a source of uniqueness of Almaty.
In addition to the natural and climatic features of the area, Almaty residents believe that architectural objects (28%) make the city particular, including the Medeo high-mountain skating rink (16%). Other factors of uniqueness (5%) are much less often mentioned, such as the conditions for the city’s social, economic and cultural development, as well as the residents themselves.
It should be noted that young people much more often mention the wide social and economic opportunities as a factor of uniqueness (41%). Citizens of middle age find that the image of the city is formed thanks to man-made objects, monuments, streets, parks and squares (43%).
And the older generation considers Almaty to be unique, thanks to the people who inhabit it (22%).
6. Among the main reasons for recommending the southern capital for living, its residents named the availability of ample opportunities for a comprehensive, including economic, development, “city of opportunities” (33%), exceptional natural and climatic conditions, “resort city” (23%), and also a rich cultural and entertainment infrastructure, “city-holiday” (22%).
On the reverse side of the coin, among the reasons not to recommend Almaty for life, the citizens refer to the problems of the road and transport sector, including traffic jams, the lack of parking, claims to the work of public transport, etc. (39%), high cost of living (32%), and a critical state of the environment (32%).
7. Studies on the formation of territorial identity show that for the positive identification of members of the urban community, they need an active position in the assessment and analysis of city problems, and real participation in the development and implementation of solutions for its development.
46% of respondents are not indifferent to the problems of the city – they notice problems, nurture ideas for solutions, are ready to give suggestions for improving life in the city. However, only 1% of respondents are ready to approach the authorities with their ideas and proposals, indicating that they are not ready or unwilling to cooperate with the authorities in matters of city development.
The city authorities should think about how to win trust and establish a dialogue with their own inhabitants. It is indicative that Almaty residents are more active in independent collective activity. In particular, more than a third of the citizens took part in planting green spaces (39%) during the last year, were engaged in charity (40%), another third of Almaty residents provided assistance to victims of natural disasters (27%). This is not an example of civil activity for the whole world, however, its level inspires optimism and demonstrates the presence of a powerful potential.