Volume 31, 1999, No. 2
Sociologický ústav SAV, Bratislava
Socio-Spatial Situation in Slovakia and its Problems and Development in the 20th Century. The article discusses the historical development of socio-spatial situation in Slovakia; concentrating especially on its developmental problems resulting in unfavorable conditions of this contemporary situation influenced also by social, demographic, economic, ecological and civilization problems. It focuses on the analysis of the regional level of society in the 20th century with a special attention being paid to the period of the industrial urbanization.
The first part presents the circumstances related to the shift in the civilization basis of society’s development, its supposed sources and influence on the socio-spatial organization of Slovak society. The original situation in the first half of the 20th century was difficult, due to the delay in industrial and urbanization processes, which later became intensified in the 1950’s. As the context and impacts of the shift from agrarian to industrial society as well as the transformation from rural to urban society indicate, these shifts were asynchronic, notably the urbanization process was significantly delayed.
The second part pays attention to the factors influencing the formation of socio-spatial situation of society, presenting how the industrialization and urbanization processes intensified the industrial and social development of society. It points at the specific features of accelerated industrial urbanization, which were during socialism influenced mainly by concentration, centralization and state paternalism. Moreover, the text deals with how these factors influenced the socio-spatial situation of society when besides the undeniable modernization effects had also caused significant problems and imbalances such as the deepening of differentiation and polarization of regional and residential development, and the shaping of marginal territories and residences. The specific effects of urbanization process are analyzed from the point of view of social, socio-economic, socio-demographic and socio-cultural sphere of society, as well as the impacts of this process on regional and residential communities and their developmental dispositions.
Concluding part focuses on the contemporary socio-spatial situation, going through a multilateral transformation in which the unsolved problems of previous periods are mixed with the new problems of present period. This situation is marked by the formation of a new polarization displayed in different potential and developmental dispositions of regions and various types of residences. Deepening social disparities are characterized by social inequalities, which result from the characteristics of the social potentials. Thus, along with spatial disparities, social disparities are deepening as well, both being concentrated in specific regions.
Sociológia 1999 Vol. 31 (No. 2: 111-140)
Katedra teórie, Fakulta architektúry STU, Bratislava
Sociology in Territorial and Regional Planning. Author analyses the materials and decrees treating the territorial and regional development in Slovak Republic and draws attention to the shortcomings of present situation. While the third-order element in the hierarchy of planning and channelling of the development of society - the territorial plan - is secured legally, institutionally and expertly, the similar device for planning of the regional development does not still exist. The crucial missing point in the process of regional planning is a lack of the set of objectives of social development, which have not yet been created. Absence of policies and proceedings for forming the developmental conditions is reflected negatively in inadequately high position of the territorial plans and overestimated significance given to their contents, which often lack workable conceptual framework and strategies.
It is being argued that propositions and supporting arguments applied to the conceptions and programmes for the development of the regions cannot be wholly based on supranational materials provided by the EU, especially when the consequences for the internal development are being derived from them uncritically and formally. Fulfilment of the aims of regional politics, as they are set in the EU materials, is a very specific task in facing and solving the different problems in the different regions.
Critical focus is aimed on the proclaimed system of co-ordination of social, economic and territorial development, which does not seriously consider and evaluates the sociological apprehension of societal developmental problems. Though the sociological knowledge ought to be taken as the starting point for the allocation and channelling of the interlocked developmental conceptions - the economic and territorial development - it is being ignored in the process of the developmental planing. Thus the basic question of developmental planning remains unanswered: For whose and which problems shall the developmental conceptions provide solutions?
As the previously occupied arguments indicate, the likely application of sociology in the process of territorial and regional planning is still rather a distant future than an actual practise in Slovakia. As the author concludes, it is the task of sociologists to finally start their active participation on the creation of developmental concepts of Slovak society.
Sociológia 1999 Vol. 31 (No: 2: 141-158)
Katedra politológie FF UK, Bratislava
Theory and Politics of the Reform of Public Administration (Alternative Approaches to the Democratisation and Innovation). Article presents alternative theoretical approaches to the reforms of the system of public administration, which could be eventually employed in the transformational processes of the post-communist societies.
The present consensus regarding the reforms of public administration in the Central and Eastern European countries is more concerned with the piecemeal aspects of system’s structure as with the issues concerning the public administration systems as a whole. One of the still persisting problems, which the transforming societies face, is a lack of the political scientific analysis of their public administration systems.
The first part of the article focuses on the politics of democratisation of power relations between central and local governments, especially on the debates between liberalism and communitarism, the state and the municipalities, and the issues related to the decentralisation of power within the models of local government and the theories of new regionalism.
The second part discusses the models and politics of motivation of the public sector management, elaborating on the concepts of public choice theory, neo-taylorism, the dual-state theory, the theory of social relations and the theory of new public management.
Sociológia 1999 Vol. 31 (No. 2: 159-174)
Katedra teórie, FA STU, Bratislava
Sociological Aspects of Environmental Decision-Making. The paper deals with environmental problems and public participation in the environmental decision-making. The beginnings of the crisis of both the environment and the public life in the seventies started many reforms in the society, which were guided by the reevaluation of the knowledge about the interaction of man and nature.
A recent trend has been to ignore the social risks and to concentrate on accumulating the material wealth. Resisting this trend implies changes to the underlying values of society as well as to the founding principles of economic system. Shifts in the behavior and lifestyles of citizens are required for the sake of a sustainable welfare of future generations. This, in turn may require a change in individual values in relation to communities, ownership, responsibility and individual involvement. In a democratic society the citizens are involved in the process of public participation and can influence the decision-making process by exercising their rights. However, in Slovakia, there is a little experience with efficient methods of public participation and mediation, which play an important role in the processes of environmental decision-making all over the Western Europe. Three case studies (hydro-electric power station in Žilina, motorway in Považská Bystrica and quarry Klubina) are introduced to illustrate possible achievements of active public participation in the process of environmental assessment and decision-making.
Sociológia 1999 Vol. 31 (No. 2: 175-182)
Zdenek Šťastný - Ľubomír Falťan
Sociologický ústav SAV, Bratislava
The Dynamics of Economic Changes in Small Town Settlements (Its Perception by Inhabitants and Local Economic Elites). The article presents preliminary observations of the local patterns of economic transformation and its social consequences, which influenced the development of structural attributes of economic subjects in Brezno and Banská Štiavnica. Changes of proprietary forms and the variety of organizational forms of these subjects, together with the massive reduction of size of the leading local companies, had a strong impact on the socio-economic situation of town’s population. During the monitored period, a growth of unemployment rate, changes in the working conditions and decrease of the professional career possibilities were observed.
Comparison between the selected groups of towns’ populations and the local economic elites signals the increasing differences in their evaluation of work responsibility, different definition of the most dynamic economic factors of work and different attitude towards the claims for a qua-lification and employment career. Despite their concurrence about the difficult situation with job-to-find possibilities, the local economic elites in both towns still consider the self-activity and the self-responsibility to be the most important elements of economic success. Research also focused on the perception of cooperation with local state administration and the local government, related to the emergence of economic problems in both settlements. The different perceptions were observed not only on the level of elite-population but also on the level of the two towns. High expectations of positive economic development were tied to the fact that both, Brezno and Banská Štiavnica, became on July 1st 1998 new county centers, however, this proved to be a rather symbolic and prestigious asset. The article also reflects the evaluation of economic changes and life conditions in the period from 1991 to 1998 as perceived by both, the town inhabitants and the local economic elites.
Sociológia 1999 Vol 31 (No. 2: 187-198)
Sociologický ústav SAV, Bratislava
Cultural Life in Small Towns (Case Studies of Brezno and Banská Štiavnica). The study is based on the empirical analysis of the present state of the cultural life development in small towns of Slovakia. It compares the opinions and evaluations of local cultural elites and citizens, the differences between both the towns and changes in their cultural life after six years. The research was focussed on the institutional base of local culture, level of cultural life, cultural activities of citizens, their satisfaction with opportunities of cultural enjoyment and the role of local government in the field of culture.
The results of analysis support that the most serious problem of local culture is a lack of financial resources. This fact negatively affects the existential conditions of both state and municipal cultural institutions and also the overall development of local cultural life. Its evaluation is reflected in a low level of people’s satisfaction. Especially a poor material and technical equipment of a cultural infrastructure and a lack of cultural events designed for youth are perceived in the most critical way. Even though a revival of citizens’ cultural activities, the orientation to a passive perception of cultural values prevails unambiguously, and the interest in their own active creation is decreasing. The general interest of people in cultural events is considered by the local cultural elites to be insufficient.
For the further development of local cultural life it is inevitable to become interconnected with other social spheres. Also, the leading personalities of local cultural institutions realize their tasks and activities within the complex net of social relations. As the most important seems to be the well-established cooperation with local businesses and local government. Especially the role of local government appears to be irreplaceable since the development of culture in small towns is primarily depending on its objectives and efficient operation.
Sociológia 1999 Vol. 31 (No. 2: 199-210)