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

By Simon Smith | Go to book overview

after 1989 was often simply to adapt (incrementally) to new conditions and demands using the same 'human potential' as before. Even in the relatively small towns which have been examined in the latter part of this chapter there existed a much larger pool of citizens able and willing to take on civic leadership roles, and the existence of a formal or informal opposition to the governing team has been a factor influencing the dynamics of their civic cultures ever since 1989. A greater degree of anonymity facilitated by larger communities guarantees the existence of a space for constructive opposition and the eventual alternation of local political elites. Correspondingly there is a greater distance between citizens' private and public lives, and the dissemination of new attitudes towards participation in local politics is therefore a potentially smoother process, given that it does not imply such a radical identity crisis. The problem which small town communities have to face is rather the danger of non-participation by citizens, caused by their withdrawal into private affairs or by tendencies towards feelings of powerlessness against the impersonal face of social changes.


Notes
1
Supported by the GA of ČR grant 403/00/1713.
2
The first suggestions for a new territorial administrative arrangement for the Czech Republic were accompanied by the airing of suppressed nationalisms, often voiced by regional nomenclatures and newly established nationalist political parties, which lobbied for the creation of a Moravian or Moravian– Silesian homeland.
3
The following analysis draws on the international comparative research project 'Learning Democracy', which was carried out in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1995 and financed by the Norwegian Research Council. The empirical data consisted of written memoirs of councillors or mayors who were elected and served in the first electoral term after the change of regime. The Czech collection of memoirs has sixty-five items: forty-three authors were elected mayor in the first term and most were re-elected in the autumn of 1994; ten contributors are women. The memoirs have different length and content, but most of them cover the following topics: how it came about that they were elected as municipal councillors; local government policy; decision-making; solving specific local issues.
4
In the Czech 'Learning Democracy' sample 37 per cent of municipalities had fewer than 2,000 and 50 per cent fewer than 5,000 inhabitants. This actually constitutes a significant under-representation of the smallest municipalities, since nationwide 90 per cent of municipalities have fewer than 2,000 inhabitants, and 60 per cent fewer than 500. A highly significant process during the period immediately after 1989 was the fragmentation of municipalities as a reaction to their forced amalgamation in the 1970s and 1980s which had occurred in the name of effective public administration but often against the wishes of their inhabitants. In 1989 there were around 4,100 municipalities in the Czech Republic, which had increased to 5,800 at the start of 1991, and stabilised at the present level of 6,200 in 1996. The driving force of this process

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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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