Reflecting Transformation in Post-socialist Rural Areas
Editor: Maarit Heinonen, Jouko Nikula, Inna Kopoteva, Leo Granberg
Date Of Publication: Mar 2007
The rural reforms in many post-soviet countries produced a number of unintended consequences. The reforms were guided by ideals of romanticized society of family farmers; they were to be the basis of the rural middle-class, together with owners of non-agricultural SME’s, acting as guardians of democracy and common good. The guidelines were set by advisers from World Bank and IMF, who preferred family farms or individual farms over the collective enterprises. In most countries the result was nothing like those envisaged by reformers. Instead of efficient and productive family farms, the result was almost complete de-capitalization of agriculture and collapse of production. The reform was destructive not only as far as production is concerned, but more importantly to rural communities. Social ties, which were based on the collective farm as the main economic and social resource for local community, were eroded. Only from the turn of this decade some early stages have been visible of new developments in economic and social life in post-socialist rural areas. The result is that now, more than fifteen years since the beginning of agricultural reforms, the key agricultural producers in Russia, Baltic countries and elsewhere are very large capitalist farms or large agricultural holding companies.
This anthology is based on the presentations given at the 5th Aleksanteri Conference 10 – 11 November 2005 in Helsinki, Finland, and it is devoted to the analysis of some of these issues. The volume is divided into two parts, in the first part the focus is on the patterns and problems of transformation of post-socialist agriculture and agricultural policies while the second part is focuses mainly on efforts to revitalize rural communities and issues of local development.
Maarit Heinonen, Dr Jouko Nikula, Inna Kopoteva and Dr Leo Granberg are social scientists of the Post-socialist Rural Studies Group at the Aleksanteri-institute (The Finnish Centre for Russian and Eastern European Studies). They have conducted a number of studies on post-socialist rural areas in Russia and several Eastern European countries since the late 1990s.
"The contributions in the book cast a critical and in many cases also fresh light on the reform policies that national government in close cooperation with international organizations carried through and on the simplified understanding of the nature and mechanisms of post-socialist transition processes. The articles raise important questions about the role of institutions, legacies and local practices as preconditions for overcoming the severe and often unintended social and economic consequences of transition. The book is of high relevance for scholars of rural development in Central and Eastern European countries and Russia and for practitioners of rural development."
PhD. Ilkka Alanen, Academy research fellow, University of Jyväskylä
"The book 'Reflecting Transformations in Post Socialist Rural Areas' brought together various authors whose backgrounds range from economics or political analysis to sociology or anthropology. Therefore, there is no doubt the book must present different views, must focus on different geographical areas in Central and Eastern Europe (with the dominant interest in former Soviet Union) and must use different theories to interpret and explain authors’ empirical findings. Albeit such 'polyphony' threatens to result into incoherent text, it is not the case of this work. Confronting various approaches, studied areas, theories and findings strengthens the general impression of the reader that the post-communist rural transition is not an easy win-win process because real rural world analysed from broader and various perspectives is too far from ideas about the ideal world with zero transaction costs where any action is easy to be implemented. The book is not an ideological apologetics of the “only right way” of transforming rural areas but gives lively mosaic of hopes and fares, winners and losers, successes and failures emerging during post communist transition in the Central and Eastern European countryside."
-PhDr. Michal Lošťák, Vice-dean for International Relations, Czech University of Life Sciences, Faculty of Economics and Management, Czech University of Agriculture in Prague
"I consider that the book contains a lot of interesting material and raises very important issues, in particular, concerning rural development."
-Ewa Rabinowicz, Swedish Institute for Food and Agricultural Economics, Lund, Sweden, European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol 35, no 2, June 2008
"RAkowska-Harmstone and Dutkiewicz, with their central, eastern, and southeastern European colleagues, have produced a fine two-volume set for the regional, transition and area studies literature. Scholars, policymakers, and business leaders will find in the trends, prospects, and variations analyzed a foundation for understanding the successes and failures across the European continent and beyond."
-Joshua B. Spero, Fitchburg State College, in Slavic Review, vol. 67, no. 2 (Summer 2008), pp472-3
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