The article considers problems of rural schools in the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic (insufficient infrastructure, unstable Internet access, social-cultural isolation, remoteness from the center, lack of cultural institutions and additional education, lack of qualified teachers) and attempts to solve them with the help of the national project “Education”. Thus, the project promises primarily digitalization of education and improvement of the infrastructure of rural schools by creating centers for humanitarian and digital development.
The article presents the life trajectories of representatives of those national groups that became active rural entrepreneurs in the North-West Region of Russia at different times. Unfortunately, we have not yet considered the national-ethnic aspect of rural entrepreneurship in our research projects (see, e.g.: Bozhkov, 2019; Bozhkov, Ignatova, 2015; 2017; Bozhkov, Trotsuk, 2018; Ignatova, 2016). The article focuses on various problems that the migrants from different former republics of the Soviet Union face in the zones of risky Russian agriculture. The empirical basis of the article is the data (transcripts of interviews and field observations) of sociological expeditions supported by the Russian Foundation for Humanities and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research in 2005–2008 and 2018–2019. The four ‘cases’ confirm the hypothesis that, regardless of the migration-generational trajectory and activities in the Russian countryside, all entrepreneurs face the same problems (labor shortage, abandoned production facilities and dilapidated social infrastructure, expensive loans and harsh tax and administrative pressure ‘from above’—despite the declarative-nominal support of the state, the general atmosphere of social distrust, the lack of traditions and skills of real cooperation, and so on). There is some specificity of such problems; however, it is determined not by the national-ethnic factor, but rather by the reaction of the traditional rural community to ‘outsiders’ who bring their own rules and disrupt the routine of local life (with its unemployment, impoverishment, desolation and alcoholism).
Local self-government in Russia has seriously degraded in the last decades. The strengthening power vertical and the centralized budgetary policy minimized the ability of rural administrations to finance the construction of social infrastructure facilities. The existing mechanisms and practices of public-private and municipal-private partnerships aim at implementing large projects rather than at contributing to the rural development. The data from the 2018 field research show that the weakening of local self-government is partially restrained by the increased activity of rural residents. For instance, local entrepreneurs spend their money on building schools with the support of local authorities. Based on the regional and ethnic differences in the stories from the Tatar village in the Volga Region and the Russian village in Siberia, the authors identify some common features of projects from below and analyze both their reasons and motives of entrepreneurs in different regions. Such cases of public-private partnerships ‘not by the rules’ should not be considered charity: they have various motives hidden in the relations between the authorities, business and rural population, and they are a result of informal agreements, in which mutual obligations of the participants are not legally set but are demonstrative manifestations of the local identity and of the intention to keep the traditional order.
In the contemporary world history, rural communities and small producers did not naturally disappear due to the loss of economic competitiveness, but were artificially constrained and destroyed by the state laws, institutions, and policies. South Korea, which is considered a representative success case of the late capitalist industrialization after the World War II, can be an important example to examine the relevance of this challenging perspective. Korea’s economic success was largely determined by the NACF (National Agricultural Cooperatives Federation) lack of integrity: it was to be a voluntary and autonomous organization of farmers, but became a subordinate partner of the agricultural policy of the military government. The Saemaul (New Country) Movement developed by the government to promote rural innovations actually accelerated the decline of agriculture for it was used to control farmers. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Korean rural society was deeply dependent on the state power. At the same time, the farmers resistance developed as a reaction to the military government policies, and the NACF became the target of the farmers collective resistance movement. Thus, under the Park Chung Hee’s regime, Korean farmers were to participate in the national economy and become a part of the mandatory social-economic movement; however, they never managed to achieve a true class/collective political representation.
The author continues the study of the Local Initiatives Support Program in the Tver Region, which was started in 2016. Based on the rural settlements’ participation in this Program from 2013 to 2018, the author drew a map and made conclusions about the rural population activity. However, according to the field data, rural residents rarely propose projects; therefore, the map presents rather the activity of local administrations. The article focuses on contradictions and difficulties in the implementation of local projects in different municipalities. The survey and expert interviews in the municipalities of the Tver Region showed that the general idea of the Program differs from the results of its regional implementation for participation in the Program was very difficult for many municipalities due to bureaucratic obstacles. The proper application and achievement of the required results including involvement of local communities were as difficult for many administrations as ensuring the project information support which was one of the necessary conditions for getting a regional subsidy. Moreover, there are differences in the directions of the rural development compared to the European LEADER approach: LEADER projects usually do not focus on the infrastructural development and aim primarily at the small business development, preserving the cultural heritage and increasing the tourist attractiveness of rural settlements.
The article considers the history and everyday practices of the German housing cooperative partnership Uferwerk located in the countryside not far from Berlin. On the example of the housing cooperative Uferwerk, the authors analyze the social structure, financial and legal features of the contemporary housing partnership that reconstructs traditional relations and at the same time creates new humanistic relations of the community. This partnership transformed and rebuilt the former industrial territory of the metallurgical manufactory into an environmentally attractive space for the community of ninety adults and sixty children of various generations. The article focuses on the successful intergenerational interaction of the members of this housing partnership; considers its search for optimal legal and organizational-financial forms. The authors emphasize that all members of this unique project did not have any special data or skills for creating a cooperative, arranging a joint life, reconstructing real estate or developing a set of rules for the partnership. Thus, the new community developed due to the internal mutual learning based on the active participation of its members in management and decision-making, work and leisure, and on their desire to achieve the old utopian goals of cooperative solidarity in the new social realities of the 21st century.
The article considers the rural space transformations determined by the tourist and recreational development. Tourist facilities are usually located either on agricultural lands or in rural settlements, i.e. on the periphery of rural communities—hills or coastal areas. On the most attractive parts of the Lake Baikal coast, in rural communities and their neighborhood, there are new territorial structures developing—cottage settlements. At the same time, there is a reverse process—the increasing abandoned space inside settlements (abandoned houses and houses for sale due to the youth outflow to the city, growing labor migration). The article presents the results of the study of the changing geographical and cultural landscape of the village, of its increasing institutional and environmental challenges. On the agricultural land, there are new tourist and recreational facilities, which leads the multi-structural rural economy to a single recreational path and changes the perception of this trend by the rural population. Before, tourist services constituted only one survival strategy in the multi-structural system, while today the development of the entrepreneur stratum with recreational tasks does not correspond to the existing system of values. This is no longer an integral part of the rural economy; it is a commercial business competing with the rural population. Moreover, tourist sites on the agricultural land have huge institutional costs and support the corrupt system of land relations. The article is based on the field research conducted in rural communities of the Baikal region in 2005–2007 and 2011–2018.
The increase in number of agroholdings in the Russian regions changes the paths of rural development and attracts the scientific interest to interaction of business groups with the authorities and local communities. Concentration of agricultural production in the hands of large companies has regional peculiarities determined by the level of integration: there are regions with a high share of holdings in the structure of agricultural production (for example, the Belgorod and Voronezh Regions) and, on the contrary, regions with a high share of agricultural production in households (Dagestan, Crimea, Tuva). The article considers the Republic of Crimea as a participant of the emerging holding structure of the agricultural production, but the increase in the share of agricultural enterprises is accompanied by the dominance of the informal household economy. The author also considers the influence of agroholdings on the development of rural territories and agricultural production on the example of the largest Crimean producer of agricultural products.
The article considers rural environmental issues as an object of sociological research and emphasizes the need to conduct surveys of expert communities. Such an approach allows to identify, follow and analyze the development of various environmental practices typical for rural residents, and to evaluate innovations and initiatives at both households and settlement level. The authors insist on the need to use the previously tested expert questionnaire and to rely on the cases that meet the specific requirements of the study. For instance, in the considered case, the authors faced methodological difficulties when discussed rationality of the environment use and interdependence of available natural resources and everyday human activities. Thus, the article presents a ‘field-tested’ methodology of sociological research focusing on the in-depth analysis of environmental issues in rural worlds.
The article considers the state agrarian policy during the presidency of Lula da Silva (2003–2010) and Dilma Rousseff (2011–2016). This policy was controversial: on the one hand, the Workers’ Party has always supported land reforms and social movements in the agrarian sphere, but, on the other hand, it began to make political and electoral alliances with large agribusiness. Therefore, more than a decade of generally progressive activities determined only insignificant changes in the implementation of key government programs. In some cases, there were even outright failures such as attempts to expand land expropriation to provide landless family farms with land. The political cycle ended with the collapse of electoral alliances and with the impeachment of Rousseff in 2016, which proved political and tactical failures of the Workers’ Party. The article considers government decisions, historical causes of land conflicts, struggles for land and territory, challenges in mobilizing supporters in this struggles. The authors emphasize the content of political discussions (especially under the criminalization of social movements which makes them illegal), economic disputes about the role of agribusiness, and the fierce struggle for land and territorial rights under the progressive governments of the Workers’ Party.