International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Rebuilding and Failing Collectivity: Specific Challenges for Collective Farmers Marketing Initiatives in Post-Socialist Countries

International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Volume 18, issue 1 (2011), pages 70-88

Authors: Talis Tisenkopfsa, Imre Kováchb, Michal Lošťákc and Sandra Šūmanea
Affiliation: aFaculty of Social Sciences, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia; bInstitute for Political Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Science, Budapest, Hungary; cFaculty of Economics and Management, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Praha, Czech Republic

ISSN: 0798-1759


Abstract

This article addresses the re-birth of co-operative and other mutual initiatives in Central and East Europe after the collapse of socialism and its centralized attempts to impose forms of co-operation on the countryside. The central theoretical question is: how is collectivity rebuilt and why does this process face great difficulties in post-communist conditions? The article refers to the social capital framework and explores specificities of rebuilding collective farmers marketing initiatives in post-socialist countries by applying five explanatory factors: the historical context of system transformation and path dependency of farmers’ cooperation; the role of social capital and trust; political support frameworks; learning, knowledge processes and the role of advice (extension); and the impact of trade liberalization and globalization. Using case-studies from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Latvia, the article shows how different historical and cultural contexts have played a role in different trajectories of collective farmers marketing initiatives in these countries and how stocks of social capital have been used differently in building farmers initiatives according to specific contexts. The article demonstrates that the success or failure of initiatives is determined by the workings of social capital in interaction with other important dimensions – organizational structures, institutional arrangements, governance of markets, local culture and traditions, access to political power, and farmers’ knowledge.

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