Local Communities and Post-Communist Transformation: Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia

By Simon Smith | Go to book overview
agglomerations, was championed as an expression of the transcendence of class antagonisms: town and country were no longer metaphysical opposities, and the passing of a specifically rural worldview was something to be marked (by establishing museums or other monuments to a rural heritage, for example) but not mourned (Zemko 1978).
20
The recently compiled 'Vision for the Development of the Czech Republic until 2015', which was commissioned by a government advisory council on social and economic strategy, envisages a growing role for social movements and organisations in Czech society under each of its three developmental scenarios – as the mobilisers of resistance to globalisation and proponents of localised solutions based on sustainable development under the scenario 'victorious markets'; as respected social partners incorporated into both government planning and European Union funding structures under 'institutional adaptation'; or as mediators and interest aggregators according to social corporatising trends identified with the scenario 'steady progress within the bounds of consensus' (Centrum pro sociální a ekonomické strategie 2001:192–213, 219). In one form or another the growing influence and social prestige of the civic sector is thus viewed as a predictable and necessary component of any likely path to social and economic modernisation. The 'Vision' was written by a large team, among whose leaders was Fedor Gál (who now works at the Social Science Faculty of Charles University in Prague), and his 1990 'vision' for OF and VPN comes to mind when reading the sections on political and civic development. The publication of these prognoses as the work of what is in effect a government-supported thinktank demonstrates the continued currency of such discourses among opinion-formers in the Czech Republic.
21
A clear indication of the importance for local self-empowerment of external partners and discourses – and one which also confirms the importance of 'hot' issues which can stimulate local patriotism, as seen in J. and Ř. – is the success of Vyšný Čaj, a neighbouring village of B., in overturning a regional planning decision to construct a land-fill waste site in the locality: 250 inhabitants formed a civic association, 'For a healthy Olšava valley', with assistance from Friends of the Earth and supported by the council, which documented numerous procedural lapses in the planning process (most seriously, the negative recommendations of the Environmental Impact Assessment had been ignored, and local objections had not been properly considered) and convinced the Environment Ministry to veto the tip. According to Ladislav Hegyi of Friends of the Earth, the decision 'means a lot for many local citizens and for the trust in democratic mechanisms in Slovakia…. I am glad that our specialist research helped local citizens defend themselves from bad decision-making which threatened their quality of life' (Obecné noviny no. 17, 2002). The contrast with the depressed civic culture in B. could not be more stark, although further research would be required to ascertain the full range of causes of this situation.

Bibliography

'Beseda za okrúhlym stolom' (1996) 'Tretí sektor a občianska spoločnosť' Sociológia vol. 28 no. 3: 257–70.

Blažek, B. (undated) 'Obnova venkova'. Online. Available HTTP: <http://forum.isu.cz> (accessed January 2002).

-89-

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Local Communities and Post-Communist Transformation: Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Basees/Routledgecurzon Series on Russian and East European Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Contributors ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • 1 - Sociological Readings of Post-Communist Lifeworlds 1
  • Notes 13
  • Bibliography 14
  • 2 - Civil Society and Political Parties in the Czech Republic 19
  • Bibliography 39
  • 3 - Agents for Community Self-Determination? Experiences of Local Actors 41
  • Notes 85
  • Bibliography 89
  • 4 - The Slovak Union of Nature and Landscape Conservationists 92
  • Notes 103
  • 5 - Electronics Industry Workers in Slovakia 1995–2000 105
  • Notes 123
  • Bibliography 124
  • 6 - Case Studies from the Electronics Industry 126
  • Notes 141
  • 7 - The Czech Republic 1990–2000 143
  • Notes 158
  • Bibliography 159
  • 8 - Civic Potential as a Differentiating Factor in the Development of Local Communities 161
  • Bibliography 182
  • 9 - Group Strategies of Local Communities in Slovakia Facing Social Threats 184
  • Bibliography 205
  • 10 - The Narrativisation of Social Transformation 206
  • Notes 216
  • Bibliography 218
  • Index 221
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