The study of the problem of ethnic inequality in historical perspective provides the opportunity to trace the processes of the integration/disintegration of society with respect to interethnic relations. The social and structural characteristics of ethnic inequality are reflected in the population's mass consciousness and acquire the force of social attitudes. Social tension arises in society from the objective and subjective causes of ethnic inequality, and this tension, in turn, can develop into ethnic conflicts. The politicization of ethnic conflicts fractures society even more along the lines of ethnic inequality, and the escalation of these conflicts can lead to the disintegration of society and the formation of new states in accordance with the ethno-nationalist principle. This predictable pattern was realized in the historical process of the ussr in the period of the 1960s-1991, and contemporary Russian society experiences to this day the consequences of ethnic tensions that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union. The historical experience of national identity formation cannot occur without recognizing the dynamics of problems of ethnic inequality. These issues are considered through the empirical findings of ethnic and sociological research in which periods of development with new scientific formulations and approaches become apparent. The findings of the authors' own sociological research in the form of an opinion survey conducted in St. Petersburg in 2015-2016 confirm the importance of the challenge of ethnic inequality in contemporary Russian society and permit an evaluation of the issue's current state in mass consciousness.
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