MIGRANTS, A BLESSING IN DISGUISE?
A CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE
Sjaak Pappe BAA MA. Innovation and Culture Management Strategist, Owner, Sjaak Pappe Innovation and Culture Management | Nature Inspired Design & Social InnovationCo-owner, Coconut Blue | Facilitating Safe Cultures | A Safe Culture First. Co-owner, Rynbende Spirits | Authentic Dutch Spirits | Genever Reinvented. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keywords: Migrants, Cultural diversity, Cultural enrichment, Cultural traditions, Social cohesion, Empathy, Cross-cultural learning, Hybrid identities, Cultural tolerance, Inclusivity, Intercultural experiences, Cultural integration, Interconnectedness, Living together, Biomimicry, Nature-inspired Innovation
Synopsis: This article explores the often-overlooked perspective that migrants bring a multitude of blessings to their host countries, acting as catalysts for cultural enrichment and growth. This narrative challenges preconceived notions surrounding migration and shed light on the transformative power of diverse cultures coming together.
While migrants bring numerous cultural blessings to their new countries, it is important to acknowledge that migration can have challenges or downsides.
Let’s look at nature as inspiration, where biodiversity is key for survival. It maintains ecosystem stability, supports adaptation and evolution, provides essential ecosystem services, offers medicinal and genetic resources, holds cultural and aesthetic value, and enhances resilience to climate change. Recognizing the importance of biodiversity and taking measures to conserve and restore it is vital for the long-term well-being and survival of humans and the many species that share our planet. Human diversity enables biodiversity.
In today’s interconnected world, the movement of people across borders has become a defining feature of our time. While migration often sparks debates and controversies, it is essential to recognize the immense cultural blessings that migrants bring to their host countries. From introducing diverse traditions and customs to fostering social cohesion, migrants contribute to a vibrant and dynamic cultural tapestry that enriches our societies in countless ways.
Drivers of human migration..2
Types of Migration..3
The difference between migrants and immigrants..4
Biodiversity in nature..5
Biodiversity and human diversity..6
The positive effect of diversity on human groups..7
What migrants bring to their new country..9
Potential downsides of migrants..10
How to decrease migration, from different perspectives..11
Books and articles about the advantages of diversity..12
Drivers of human migration.
Human migration is driven by a complex interplay of factors that have evolved over centuries. These factors can be broadly categorized into push and pull factors and environmental, economic, social, political, and technological drivers. Here are some of the key drivers of human migration:
- Environmental Factors: Environmental changes, such as natural disasters (e.g., floods, droughts, hurricanes), climate fluctuations, and resource scarcity, can force people to leave their homes in search of safer or more habitable regions.
- Economic Factors: Economic opportunities and disparities are significant drivers of migration. People often move to areas with better job prospects, higher wages, and improved living standards.
- Social Factors: Social reasons, such as family reunification, marriage, or joining existing migrant communities, can lead to migration.
- Political Factors: Political instability, conflict, persecution, and human rights abuses can compel people to flee their home countries as refugees or asylum seekers.
- Technological Factors: Advances in transportation and communication technology have facilitated migration by reducing the barriers of distance and allowing easier access to information about potential destinations.
- Urbanization: The growth of cities and urban centers can attract rural populations seeking improved living conditions, education, and healthcare.
- Globalization: Increased interconnectedness and globalization have created networks that encourage migration by providing information about opportunities and experiences in other places.
- Demographic Factors: Population growth, demographic imbalances, and changes in family structures can influence migration patterns.
- Cultural and Religious Factors: Sometimes, migration is driven by the desire to practice specific religious beliefs or preserve cultural identity.
- Conflict and War: Ongoing conflicts and wars in certain regions can lead to mass displacement of people seeking safety and stability.
It’s essential to note that these drivers interact with each other, creating complex migration patterns. Additionally, the relative importance of these factors can vary over time and across different regions, leading to constantly evolving migration trends. Migration has played a crucial role in shaping societies and will likely continue to be an important aspect of human existence in the future.
Migration is a natural and historical phenomenon that has been occurring for centuries and even millennia. Various factors, including environmental changes, economic opportunities, political instability, social factors, and more, have driven human migration. While ideally, people might prefer to stay in their homeland and not face the challenges of moving to a new place; migration has been a significant part of human history.
There are several types of migration:
- Internal migration: This involves people moving within the boundaries of their own country, often from rural areas to urban centers in search of better opportunities and living conditions.
- International migration: This refers to people moving from one country to another, either permanently or temporarily, for various reasons, such as economic, political, or family-related factors.
- Forced migration: In certain cases, people are compelled to migrate due to conflicts, wars, persecution, or natural disasters, making them refugees or internally displaced persons.
- Voluntary migration: This type of migration occurs when individuals or families consciously decide to move to another place in search of better opportunities or to reunite with family members.
Migration has played a crucial role in shaping the cultural, social, and economic landscape of different regions. It has led to the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and cultures, contributing to diversity and enriching societies.
While migration has positive aspects, it can also present challenges for migrants and the host communities. Issues such as integration, social cohesion, cultural differences, and economic strains may arise. Governments and international organizations often work to manage migration flows and support migrants during the process.
In summary, migration has been a constant aspect of human history. While ideally, it might not be necessary for people to leave their homes, it continues to be an important part of human existence and evolution.
What is the difference between migrants and immigrants?
The terms “migrants” and “immigrants” are related but have distinct meanings and are often used in different contexts. Here’s the difference between them:
Migrants are people who move from one place to another, usually across national or regional borders, intending to change their residence. The term “migrant” is a broader and more inclusive category encompassing various movements, such as internal migration within a country or international migration between different countries. Migrants can move for multiple reasons, including economic opportunities, education, family reunification, environmental factors, or seeking asylum from persecution or conflict in their home countries.
Migrants can be further classified into different types based on the nature and purpose of their movement, such as economic migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs), etc.
Immigrants are a specific subset of migrants who move from one country to another, intending to settle permanently or semi-permanently in the destination country. In other words, immigrants are individuals who have chosen to make a new country their long-term home. Becoming an immigrant usually involves obtaining legal authorization, such as visas, green cards, or citizenship, to live and work in a new country.
So, while all immigrants are migrants, not all migrants are immigrants. Immigrants specifically refer to individuals who have crossed international borders to reside in a new country permanently or for an extended period.
In summary, “migrants” is a broad term that includes anyone who moves from one place to another. At the same time, “immigrants” specifically refers to those who move to a different country for the purpose of settling there.
Biodiversity enhances the resilience and responsiveness of nature’s ecosystems to change due to the following key reasons:
- Redundancy of Species: Biodiversity provides a wide variety of species within an ecosystem, and many of these species may perform similar functions or occupy similar niches. This redundancy means that if one species is negatively affected by a change, others can step in and fulfill the same ecological roles. This redundancy helps maintain ecosystem functions even in the face of disturbances or shifts in environmental conditions.
- Functional Diversity: Biodiversity often includes species with different traits and characteristics. Each species has unique adaptations, behaviors, and functions within the ecosystem. This functional diversity ensures that various ecological processes, such as nutrient cycling, pollination, seed dispersal, and pest control, are performed efficiently. If one species is adversely affected by a change, other species with complementary functions can compensate, ensuring ecosystem stability.
- Interactions and Relationships: Biodiversity fosters complex ecological interactions and relationships among species. These interactions can be mutualistic, where both species benefit, or antagonistic, where one species benefits at the expense of another. The presence of multiple species and their interactions create intricate ecological networks, making ecosystems more resilient and adaptable to change.
- Genetic Diversity: Within a species, genetic diversity provides a broader range of traits and characteristics. This genetic variation allows some individuals within the species to be better suited to changing environmental conditions. In the face of environmental stressors, those individuals with advantageous traits can survive and reproduce, passing on their adaptive genes to the next generation.
- Ecosystem Services: Biodiversity contributes to the provision of various ecosystem services that are essential for human well-being, such as clean air and water, fertile soils, climate regulation, and flood control. These ecosystem services help buffer against environmental disturbances and support human communities during times of change or crisis.
- Adaptation and Evolution: Biodiversity provides a reservoir of genetic variation that enables species to adapt and evolve over time. As environmental conditions change, some species may undergo natural selection, leading to the development of new traits or adaptations that allow them to persist in the altered environment.
- Resilience to Disturbances: Ecosystems with higher biodiversity tend to be more resilient to disturbances, such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks, or human-induced impacts. In diverse ecosystems, the loss of one species or group of species is less likely to disrupt the overall functioning and stability of the system.
In summary, biodiversity makes nature’s ecosystems more responsive to change because of its redundancy, functional diversity, complex interactions, genetic variation, and adaptation. These attributes enable ecosystems to withstand environmental shifts better, recover from disturbances, and maintain their essential ecological functions. Protecting and promoting biodiversity is crucial for ensuring the long-term sustainability and health of our planet’s ecosystems.
Biodiversity and diversity in societies can be considered two sides of the same coin because they share fundamental principles and are interlinked in various ways. Here are some key reasons why they are closely connected:
- Interdependence: Biodiversity and diversity in societies both rely on the principle of interdependence. In ecosystems, the diversity of species and their interactions create a balanced and resilient environment. Similarly, diversity fosters cooperation, mutual understanding, and social cohesion in human societies, leading to stronger and more adaptable communities.
- Ecosystems and Human Communities: Biodiversity is essential for the functioning and stability of ecosystems. Similarly, diversity in societies is crucial for the well-being and prosperity of human communities. Both concepts contribute to the health and sustainability of the environments they exist in.
- Resilience to Change: Both biodiversity and diversity in societies enhance resilience to change. In ecosystems, greater biodiversity enables ecosystems to withstand disturbances better and adapt to shifting environmental conditions. In societies, diversity ensures that different perspectives, skills, and knowledge are available to cope with challenges and respond to changing circumstances.
- Cultural and Biological Diversity: Biodiversity refers to the variety of life forms in ecosystems, while diversity in societies encompasses the richness of cultures, languages, beliefs, and practices among human populations. Both forms of diversity contribute to the overall richness and uniqueness of our planet’s life and contribute to the identity of different regions and communities.
- Shared Threats: Biodiversity and diversity in societies face similar threats. Both are negatively impacted by factors such as habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, and globalization. Preserving biodiversity and promoting cultural diversity often require similar efforts to protect and sustain a region’s natural and cultural heritage.
- Ethical Considerations: The connection between biodiversity and diversity in societies also has ethical dimensions. Many conservation and social justice efforts recognize the importance of preserving both forms of diversity to respect the rights and dignity of all living beings and human communities.
- Local Knowledge and Traditional Practices: Both biodiversity and diversity in societies often involve preserving and transmitting traditional knowledge and practices. Indigenous and local communities, in particular, play essential roles in conserving biodiversity while maintaining their unique cultures and ways of life.
- Sustainable Development: Recognizing the relationship between biodiversity and diversity in societies is critical for achieving sustainable development goals. Ensuring the preservation and equitable distribution of natural resources and cultural heritage is crucial for sustainable development efforts.
In summary, biodiversity and diversity in societies are interconnected concepts that share common principles and are mutually dependent on each other. Recognizing the intrinsic link between these two dimensions is essential for fostering a holistic and integrated approach to sustainability, conservation, and social well-being on our planet.
Diversity indeed has a positive effect on the effectiveness of all kinds of organizations, social classes, regions, and communities for several reasons:
- Enhanced Creativity and Innovation: When people from diverse backgrounds come together, they bring different perspectives, experiences, and problem-solving approaches. This diversity of thought fosters creativity and leads to more innovative solutions and ideas. In diverse environments, individuals are exposed to different ways of thinking and are more likely to challenge conventional norms, leading to greater innovation.
- Broader Range of Skills and Talents: A diverse group of individuals typically possesses a wider range of skills, talents, and expertise. This diversity of skills allows organizations to tap into a broader pool of resources and abilities, leading to better performance and adaptability to changing circumstances.
- Improved Decision-Making: Diverse teams are better equipped to assess a situation from multiple angles and consider various viewpoints before making decisions. This inclusive decision-making process reduces the likelihood of bias and groupthink, resulting in more thoughtful and effective decisions.
- Increased Employee Engagement and Satisfaction: Employees feel valued and respected for their unique contributions when organizations embrace diversity and create an inclusive environment. This leads to higher employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention levels, as individuals are more likely to feel motivated and committed to their work and the organization.
- Better Customer Understanding: Diverse teams can better understand the needs and preferences of a diverse customer base. Organizations with a diverse workforce are more likely to connect with customers from various backgrounds, leading to improved customer service and product development.
- Positive Reputation and Brand Image: Organizations and communities that prioritize diversity and inclusion tend to have a positive reputation in the public eye. Embracing diversity can enhance a company’s brand image and attractiveness to potential customers, partners, and employees.
- Compliance with Laws and Regulations: Many countries and regions have laws promoting diversity and inclusion. Embracing diversity helps organizations comply with these laws and avoid potential legal issues and penalties.
- Social Cohesion and Harmony: In diverse communities, individuals from different backgrounds interact with each other, fostering social cohesion and harmony. This interaction promotes understanding, reduces prejudice, and helps build stronger communities.
- Global Perspective and Competitiveness: In today’s interconnected world, organizations need to operate on a global scale and understand diverse markets and cultures. A diverse workforce can provide valuable insights and a global perspective, making the organization more competitive in the international arena.
In summary, diversity enhances the effectiveness of organizations and communities by promoting creativity, improving decision-making, attracting and retaining talent, better understanding customers, and fostering social cohesion, among other benefits. Embracing diversity and creating inclusive environments is not only the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint, but it also makes good business sense and contributes to the overall success and prosperity of organizations and communities.
However, a number of cultural enablers or inhibitors are the key determinators for the success or failure of diversity in terms of effectively living and/or working together. Scientists have extensively researched these factors over the past decades and two jump out. They are:
- When leaders of diverse groups are socially oriented and truly interested in other people, their teams perform better than mono-cultural teams.
- When diverse groups are culturally competent, they outperform mono-cultural teams. The reason: they understand and respect people’s intentions and underlying values.
If these conditions are not met, diverse groups perform worse than mono-cultural teams.
Another aspect is time: it takes diverse human groups much longer than mono-cultural teams to become effective. One needs more time to understand each other’s intentions and communication. They literally need to negotiate about common ways of working. Cultural dimensions, power distance, own group focus, achievement orientation, need for certainty, short-term focus and restraint all play an important role in delaying the process of reaching effectiveness.
So, diverse teams, organizations and communities fail if leadership is not social and people and inhabitants are not culturally competent or at least culturally sensitive and respectful. In combination with the delaying factor of time, this lead, in many cases, to the decision that diversity doesn’t work and that the minority and or powerless groups should adapt or assimilate.
Let’s unveil how migrants bring a wealth of cultural experiences, traditions, and perspectives that significantly contribute to the fabric of their new societies.
Migration has been a defining aspect of human history, shaping societies and civilizations for millennia. While migration often elicits polarized opinions, one factor stands undeniable: migrants bring a treasure trove of cultural experiences, traditions, and perspectives that significantly enrich the fabric of their new societies. Like threads interwoven into a vibrant tapestry, migrants contribute to the diversity and dynamism of their host countries, fostering a more inclusive and interconnected world.
It highlights the following key themes:
- Cultural Diversity and Tolerance: A Kaleidoscope of Traditions.
At the heart of migrant contributions lies their diverse cultural backgrounds. Each migrant brings unique customs, traditions, languages, and artistic expressions rooted in their home countries. This cultural diversity acts as a beacon of enrichment, broadening the world’s collective understanding and allowing for an exchange of ideas that transcend borders.
Cultural festivals, celebrations, and culinary experiences become a gateway to exploring new cultural dimensions. Communities are introduced to music, dance, and art forms that ignite a shared sense of wonder, appreciation, and unity. As cultures intermingle, the richness of traditions blends harmoniously, creating an atmosphere that celebrates the beauty of human variety.
- Cross-Cultural Learning, Nurturing Creativity, and Innovation by exchange of knowledge and perspectives.
Migrants become catalysts for creativity and innovation in their new societies. As they navigate unfamiliar landscapes, they bring fresh approaches to problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and artistic expression. The fusion of diverse perspectives sparks new ideas, leading to breakthroughs in science, technology, and the arts.
In multicultural environments, innovation flourishes, propelling societies forward. The combination of different expertise and knowledge nurtures a collective intelligence that can address complex challenges more effectively.
- Social Cohesion and The Power of Empathy: broadening perspectives.
The meeting of diverse cultures fosters a deeper sense of empathy and understanding. Migrants often carry profound stories of resilience and courage, showcasing the human spirit’s ability to triumph over adversity. Sharing these experiences opens the eyes of the host communities, inspiring compassion and solidarity.
Through meaningful interactions, the exchange of ideas, and the recognition of common humanity, cultural barriers dissolve, paving the way for meaningful connections. The embrace of different perspectives stimulates critical thinking, challenging prevailing norms and encouraging the pursuit of greater social and cultural harmony.
- Preserving and Revitalizing Traditional Practices
In embracing their new homes, migrants often seek to preserve and revitalize the cultural practices that have endured through generations. By sharing their customs and traditions, they breathe life into fading heritage, ensuring that ancestral knowledge is cherished and passed on to future generations.
Cultural events and initiatives become bridges that connect the past and the present, as well as the host communities and their migrant members. The revival of these forgotten traditions fosters a profound sense of identity, belonging, and shared heritage.
- Cultural Fusion and Hybrid Identities: Catalysts for Social Transformation
Migrants serve as catalysts for positive social transformation. Their presence ignites dialogues on identity, diversity, and inclusivity. Societies become more reflective, questioning preconceptions, biases, and prejudices that may have gone unnoticed.
By celebrating diversity, communities redefine their collective identity and the values they hold dear. The acceptance and integration of migrants challenge societies to become more open, just, and equitable.
Indeed, alongside the cultural blessings migrants bring, there are potential downsides and challenges associated with migration. Some of these downsides include:
- Strain on Resources: A sudden influx of migrants can place a strain on a host country’s resources, including healthcare, education, housing, and social welfare systems. Meeting the increased demand for these services can be a challenge, potentially impacting the quality and accessibility of these resources for both migrants and the native population.
- Economic Impact: Migrants may compete with local workers for employment opportunities, particularly in sectors that rely on low-skilled labor. This can lead to concerns about job availability, wage levels, and job security for the native population. Additionally, some studies suggest that the initial integration process of migrants can result in short-term economic costs.
- Cultural and Social Adjustments: The arrival of migrants with different cultural practices, languages, and norms can create social tensions and challenges. There may be cultural clashes, misunderstandings, or difficulties in communication and integration. These challenges can strain community cohesion and require efforts to foster understanding and promote social harmony.
- The strain on Infrastructure: A sudden increase in population due to migration can strain existing infrastructure, including transportation systems, housing availability, and public services. Rapid urbanization and the need for additional infrastructure can pose logistical and financial challenges for the host country.
- Social Perception and Xenophobia: Migrants may and mostly will face discrimination, prejudice, and xenophobia in their new country. Negative stereotypes, fear of cultural change, and concerns about national identity can contribute to social tensions and exclusionary attitudes toward migrants.
- Security Concerns: Migration can pose security challenges, as it becomes necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of both the migrant population and the host community. Issues related to border control, crime rates, and the potential exploitation of migrants can require enhanced security measures and resources.
- Integration and Language Barriers: Language barriers can impede effective communication and integration, making it difficult for migrants to access services, education, and employment opportunities. Integration processes, such as learning the local language and adapting to the new culture, may take time and effort.
It is essential to approach these downsides with empathy and understanding, recognizing that they are complex issues that require thoughtful consideration and comprehensive strategies to address them effectively. Societies can work towards creating policies and programs that promote integration, cultural understanding, and social cohesion to ensure that both migrants and host communities can thrive harmoniously.
Addressing the root causes of migration requires a multi-faceted approach. Here are some strategies that could help decrease migration:
- Political Stability: Encouraging good governance, transparency, and accountability in government can reduce political instability and conflict, making people less inclined to leave their home countries.
- Economic Opportunities: Promote economic growth and job creation through investment in infrastructure, education, and innovation. Providing better livelihood opportunities can deter people from seeking opportunities elsewhere.
- Social Welfare: Enhance social welfare systems to support vulnerable populations, ensuring access to healthcare, education, and basic necessities, which can discourage migration for survival reasons.
- Conflict Resolution: Work towards a peaceful resolution of internal and international conflicts to create safer and more stable environments for people to live in.
- Fair Trade Policies: Encourage fair trade agreements that benefit developing nations, enabling them to participate in the global economy more effectively.
- Tackling Corruption: Combat corruption to ensure that resources are allocated fairly and efficiently, benefiting the population as a whole.
- Education and Awareness: Increase awareness about migration risks and legal pathways, empowering people to make informed decisions about their futures.
- Community Development: Invest in local communities and rural areas to improve living conditions, reducing the push factors for migration.
Remember that solving these issues requires cooperation between governments, international organizations, and civil society, as migration is a complex global challenge that needs comprehensive solutions.
Migrants are cultural ambassadors, carrying the legacy of their homelands while weaving new stories in their adopted countries. Their presence enriches the cultural fabric, making it more resilient, compassionate, and vibrant. As societies evolve, embracing diversity becomes essential for progress, empathy, and unity.
By recognizing the immense value that migrants bring to their new societies, we open doors to endless possibilities. Together, we create a tapestry of cultural richness, where the fusion of different colors, textures, and patterns becomes a celebration of our shared humanity. In this unity, we find strength, wisdom, and hope for a brighter and more inclusive future.
This article encourages readers to embrace migrants as cultural blessings in disguise and challenges them to recognize the immeasurable value that diversity brings. Through examples, this narrative reminds us that the harmonious coexistence of diverse cultures paves the way for a richer, more inclusive society.
In an era marked by globalization, the article hopes to empower readers to think of the endless possibilities when cultures intertwine, ultimately inviting readers to perceive migrants as invaluable agents of cultural evolution and transformation.
BIO: Sjaak Pappe,
He is an organizational and management sociologist by education, and works as an independent innovation and culture management strategist and entrepreneur in the spirits distillery industry. He became self-employed after an international career at the multinationals Texaco, and Boots in managerial positions in the fields of personnel management and organizational development, total quality management and customer service management. His expert areas cover: Intercultural Management, Linking Organizational Culture and Business Strategy, Culture-Based Safety Management and Strategic Innovation Management. He has mentored, coached, trained, and advised thousands of leaders and professionals in small, medium, and large international companies, business schools, universities, and ministries for the past nearly 25 years.
- “The New Case for Immigration: An Economic, Demographic, Social, and Security” by Philippe Legrain
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- “The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World” by Stephen Castles, Hein de Haas, and Mark J. Miller
This book provides an in-depth examination of global migration trends and argues that migration contributes significantly to development and prosperity in both sending and receiving countries.
- “Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future” by Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron, and Meera Balarajan
This book explores historical and contemporary migration patterns, showcasing how immigration has shaped civilizations and continues to be crucial for future global development.
- “Immigration Economics” by George J. Borjas
This book delves into the economic impacts of immigration, presenting evidence on how immigrants influence wages, employment, and overall economic outcomes.
- “Migrants and Markets: Perspectives from Economics and the Other Social Sciences” edited by Gil S. Epstein
This book brings together multiple perspectives from various social sciences to analyze the economic and social contributions of migrants to their host countries.
- “Immigration and the American Economy” by Giovanni Peri
This article explores the economic benefits of immigration to the United States, including its positive effects on productivity, innovation, and labor market dynamics.
- “The Contribution of Immigrants to Economic Growth in Host Countries” by Peter S. Liapis and Matloob Piracha
This article analyzes the impact of immigrants on economic growth in host countries, emphasizing their role in filling labor market gaps and boosting overall productivity.
- Article: “Immigrants and the Economy” by Giovanni Peri
In this article, the author discusses the contributions of immigrants to the U.S. economy, particularly their role in driving economic growth and innovation.
- Article: “The Economic Impact of Immigration” by Ethan Lewis
This article reviews existing economic research on immigration and highlights the positive effects on economic growth and labor markets.
- Article: “The Contribution of High-Skilled Immigrants to Innovation in the United States” by Jennifer Hunt and Marjolaine Gauthier-Loiselle
This article focuses on how high-skilled immigrants play a critical role in driving innovation and technological advancements in the United States.
These sources offer valuable insights into the positive impacts of immigrants on host societies, covering economic, social, and cultural aspects.