Rurality, 'survival ability' and social change: resisting and coping precarization in a peripheralizing region
Anja Decker (LMU Munich)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on data from fieldwork in Western Czechia the paper elaborates how in a peripheralizing CEE region, concepts of rurality are linked to ideas of 'survival ability', creating an interpretational frame for coping and resisting the precarization of the regional living conditions.
Paper long abstract:
In Central Eastern Europe the globalized capitalism produces new and increases existing peripheries. Building on material from several months of fieldwork in a region of the Czech Republic that is experiencing an increasing precarization of labour, this paper elaborates how residents of several rural communities experience, cope and resist these developments. A close look to their narrations and practices of their everyday-arrangements reveals, how coping strategies such as food-self-provisioning, self-mobilization and subsistence production are based on distinct, milieu-bound ideas of rurality and on conflicting social norms of the decent rural resident. By linking their self-ascribed 'survival ability' to these concepts of rurality and by contrasting it to their perceptions of urban coping possibilities, they create interpretative frames to negotiate their social positions within the current capitalist world-order. Concerning political change the linkage of rurality and 'survival ability' is ambivalent: On the one hand it opens space to come to terms with status losses and migration pressure while staying within the logics of competition. On the other hand, it is applied to demand and to test models for solidary alternatives to the neoliberal market hegemony. Furthermore, bringing together rurality and 'survival ability' enables symbolic resistance, subversion and self-efficacy, challenging the stigma of a rural population passively exposed to peripheralization. But within and across rural communities it is also a field of symbolic conflicts over the interpretive dominance of the good rural life, historical reference points and the claims to power over regional development.