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

By Simon Smith | Go to book overview

social transformation – the breakdown of social order – could paradoxically prove advantageous in one sense, if an initially forced narrativisation is adopted by specific collective actors as a way of life.

Although the studies in this volume have not explicitly adopted a narrativist approach, a common theme is an attempt to describe patterns of behaviour within a certain social sub-system with reference both to the intrinsic discursive logic of the relevant communities and practices and to a discourse of modernisation either constructed in a normative fashion by the author (as in the case of Slosiarik's study which invokes concepts such as self-regulation and civic responsibility as basic and desirable principles of 'modern' territorial community development) or imputed to external political or economic actors and institutions (as in the case of the studies of work collectives which appeal to the logic of necessary innovations in the work process connected with the transition to a new mode of economic integration and driven by the action of foreign owners or the competitive pressures of an international division of labour). This approach enabled them to comment on the intrinsic functionality or meaningfulness of existing practices and evaluate the modernising potential of social and cultural capital, the take-up of 'modern' values, the capacity of actors to step into 'modern' social roles, or the compatibility of micro- and macrolevel norms and practices. Contradictions between these discourses are often more apparent than real, a matter of misunderstanding or mistranslation rather than incompatibility. By facilitating a dialogue between 'discursive universes' sociological studies of local communities, such as those presented in this volume, can themselves contribute towards the establishment of a modern democratic civil society.


Notes
1
This ambivalence is very clear in the modernisation of the work process, which has been characterised by increasing degrees of intervention in the autonomy of the worker and even the psychological conditions of the work environment, at the same time as by the transformation of organisations into networks of social relations equipped with an initiative and an independence which are not completely reducible to domination by class power or manipulation by social engineering. The survey findings presented in this volume by Čambáliková and by Kroupa and Mansfeldová, which uncover some intricate contradictions in workers' attitudes (encapsulated in the title of Čambáliková's chapter, 'Dual identity and/or “bread and butter”"), describe the rapid modernisation of work processes in electronics factories as a process interpretable in these terms.
2
To understand the role of myths in social transformation Kabele returns to the cultural anthropology of Levi-Strauss and others. Myths, it is suggested, replace institutions when the latter no longer adequately render life predictable and 'ordered'. Life is thus temporarily construed not as 'order' but as 'drama' (Kabele 1994:22). Myths enable social actors to overcome the hardships and the sense of disorientation associated with the 'disorder' of transformation by interpreting it as a series of 'tests' on the road to the restoration of (a different)

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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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