Bernadett Csurgó, Imre Kovách and Boldizsár Megyesi
This paper aims to show the main processes of rural restructuring of Hungary after the change of political system and EU integration. It describes the changes of agricultural land-use, new dynamics of urban rural relations and rural development of the last 25 years. In the paper, we argue that the most dynamic changes happened in the era of post-communism, ended by EU-accession and the era of consolidation.
A characteristic phenomenon of these changes was the urban demand for providing facilities related to rural landscape and culture. Therefore, permanent and temporary migrations into rural areas have become the most important element of development for rural places in the last decades. The introduction of a new Europeanised rural development system has shaped these processes and reconfigured local power relations, economic and social networks. These turbulent changes occurred at the same time with the collapse of the socialist-type co-operative and state farm system, along with the restitution and reprivatisation of land, resulting in the concentration of land use and agricultural production.
The paper aims at analysing these processes by discussing the dynamics of urban-rural relationships and the new rural development system, while the final part focuses on land-use changes and its impacts on rural society.
Self-promotion and reinterpretation of local identity is becoming increasingly important in rural communities. Local identity building is succeeded very differently by rural municipalities and regions. The paper analyses the role of small towns in local identity creation. There are varying interpretations of places in Hungary as ways of achieving meaningful territorialisation. Small towns based on their leading and central position within the micro regions can dominate the place-making processes. Using the example of six Hungarian rural micro-regions we analyse how rural small towns position themselves by local image building. The aim of this paper is to investigate interactions between territorial position and innovative capacity of rural towns through the analysis of symbolisation process and image building. We purpose to introduce a concept of a place oriented approach and demonstrate its usefulness for analysis of rural innovation and place-based development. The case-studies are based on qualitative methods: document-analysis, semi-structured interviews, transect walking and participatory observation. The paper analyses the process of local community and identity building in six rural micro-regions. We seek to understand how small towns position themselves in place-making, the aim of ‘placing’ themselves in the territorial hierarchy of the settlements of micro region. Our results suggest that small towns play very different roles in local image building. Characteristics and territorial scope of local cultural heritage significantly determine the innovative capacity of small towns in local image building where there is a wide range of meanings procedures and processes of place-making.