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.