Accepted Paper:

'Great transformation' of agrarian tolerance in post-peasant Eastern Europe  

Author:

Juraj Buzalka (FSES Comenius University)

Paper short abstract:

I argue that the agrarian tolerance has survived socialism and post-socialism in Eastern Europe, however, this agrarian tolerance is being suppressed by the artificial tolerance as introduced through EU discourses and policies, fostered by elites and generated by the demands of the market. Religion offers the ‘embedded’ alternative to this development.

Paper long abstract:

Most of Eastern Europe has departed from agrarian times quite recently through state-socialist modernization. Despite its modernist attempts, state socialism managed to reproduce and even strengthened many elements of rural life, such as the role of kinship and religion, and these elements became crucial for post-socialist development, including current transformations resulting from the integration of Central and Eastern Europe into European Union. I employ the concept of 'agrarian tolerance' in order to discuss the pre-capitalist patterns of co-existence in unevenly developed Eastern Europe today. This tolerance is manifested in the activities of ordinary people who avoid nationalist participation, practice their faith with and provide social assistance to others regardless of group membership. These people show conviviality in everyday life, trust their neighbors as well as religious and community leaders, form cultural clubs, organize community events, take part in actions often considered 'illiberal' by urban intellectuals. They also employ economic practices at which the individual profit is 'embedded' within community, religion and kinship. On the basis of fieldwork in south-east Poland, I argue that the agrarian tolerance has survived socialism and post-socialism, however, under ongoing 'great transformation' that is being applied in the post-peasant setting, consisting of rural social structures, traditionalist narratives and agrarian imaginary, this agrarian tolerance is being suppressed by the artificial tolerance as introduced through EU discourses and policies, fostered by elites and generated by the demands of the market. At this point it is necessary to discuss the ambivalent 'embedded' alternative religion offers for cohesion.

Panel W002
Markets, kinship and morality