Conceptualising the Rise of the Rural Community Movement in Lithuania: A Framework for Analysis

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Conceptualising the Rise of the Rural Community Movement in Lithuania: A Framework for Analysis

This paper develops a framework for analysing the process of rural community development and institutionalisation in Lithuania. The first communal groups were established in rural Lithuania in the late 1990s. Over the last decade the number of such organisations in the country increased to 1,400. Although a very positive development, rapidly growing grass-roots activism has often led to a complex process of cooperation, conflict, competition and negotiation among the newly-created community groups and existing state agencies, non-governmental organisations, political parties, and various rural and urban interests. The model identifies four arenas of contention and negotiation, in which the newly-created communal groups have attempted to claim legitimacy and define their role in the social, economic and political life of the country: the public sphere, formalised (state financed and delivered) culture, social services' provision, and commercial (profitable) activities. Strategies of rural activists and their effectiveness in each of the four arenas of institutionalisation are examined. The contributions, as well as weaknesses, of the rural community development in promoting rural development in Lithuania are discussed.

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