Electronic Library of Scientific Literature - © Academic Electronic Press


Volume 33, 2001, No. 6, p. 533-616


Studies / Štúdie

Reviews / Recenzie


Economic Interest Groups in Slovak Politics in Nineties

Ján Sopóci
Department of Sociology, Comenius University, Bratislava

Economic Interest Groups in Slovak Politics in Nineties. Interest groups are besides political parties the most important kind of organizations, through which are in a political system of society formed, manifested, grouped and enforced interests and achieved aims of both individuals and groups composing society. Importance of interest groups in the political life of the Slovak society in the last decade grew notably. To this trend of development and particular interest groups, publicists paid attention more than political scientists and sociologists, who dealt hitherto rather with the research of the activity of the parliament and the government, political parties, changes of political preferences of citizens and their electoral behaviour. This study is concerned with the presentation of the most important findings about the influence of economic interest groups in the political life of the Slovak society in the nineties. Its first part informs about theoretical and methodological grounds for the research of these groups, the second part brings the most important findings and knowledge on the character and activity of economic interest groups.

Main formal economic interest groups in Slovakia in nineties were labour unions associated in Confederation of Labour Unions of S. R. and organizations of entrepreneurs associated in Association of Employers Unions of S. R. These associations were (with the Government of S. R.) exclusive members of the Council of Economic and Social Agreement - the institution of the social partnership at the macro-level of the society. State corporatism was prevailing pattern of interest representation in this area in nineties. Informal economic interest groups are small groups who are composed of businessmen, bankers, entrepreneurs, politicians etc. These groups were set up for purpose to represent and maintain economic aims of its members to take on political ways. Political patronage and corruption were main tactics that these groups used in nineties. These activities concerned mainly in the process of privatization of the state property and in the governance of the privatized property.

Sociológia 2001 Vol 33 (No. 6: 535-548)

Migration Potential in Slovakia

Claire Wallace and Christian W. Haerpfer
Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna

Migration Potential in Slovakia. This paper argues that there is little danger of a flood of migrants from Slovakia once Slovakia has joined the European Union. Slovak migration generally fits into a new pattern of migration in Central and Eastern Europe, which is one of short term border crossings to shop, study or earn money, rather than permanent migration. The article undertakes further analysis of the Migration Potential Survey carried out by the International Organisation for Migration in 1998 (N for Slovakia = 974) along with the New Democracies Barometer for the same year (N for Slovakia=1001). Slovakia is compared with the other neighbouring accession countries of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Using multivariate analysis, the authors consider both pull and push factors along with reasons for NOT migrating (keep factors). They find that in Slovakia very few people (less than 10%) are seriously interested in migrating and for these, pull factors are more important than push factors. However, there are very strong ties, which keep Slovak citizens from going abroad for any length of time. Younger and more educated Slovaks show most interest in migrating. The rest of the articles consider reasons why migration potential from the Slovak Republic is so low, despite the low wages there relative to neighbouring Germany and Austria. They indicate that Slovakia is increasingly being drawn into global and transnational forms of migration and migration policies.

Sociológia 2001 Vol 33 (No. 6: 549-567)

Local Culture in Slovakia

Simon Smith
Centre for Contemporary European Studies, University of Paisley, Paisley

Local Culture in Slovakia. Perceptions of local culture in Slovakia still owe much to a division between official and unofficial, formal and informal, or traditional and alternative spheres, a division imposed upon local culture in the communist era. A related distinction between organised and spontaneous ‘streams’ of local culture is retained in the initial descriptive part of this article (following a brief overview of the situation of local culture under communism) since many ‘old’ institutional forms continue into the present (and are therefore reflected in statistical categories), although their practical content has evolved. Another, largely self-contained ‘stream’, organised by Matica slovenská, is also considered at the outset, although it is omitted from the subsequent discussion and examples. The article then explores the post-1989 public debate on local culture, which has been dominated by a ‘revolutionary’ discourse emphasising concepts such as de-étatisation, decentralisation, pluralisation and a return to authenticity in cultural expression and organisation. This has been opposed by a ‘residualist’ discourse, which continues to stress the irreplaceable role of state agencies in guaranteeing the preservation of a traditional Slovak local culture. These discourses are examined in the context of the history of political reform affecting the organisation and financing of local culture. Following this the article analyses two critical transformation processes: the transformation of state cultural education institutions and the transformation of local public administration (local government). State institutions are faced with the challenge of adapting to the changing institutional-social-cultural environment, and, notwithstanding the presence of residual paternalistic attitudes, have often done so with some success. Local authorities are involved in a search for new types of relationship with the voluntary sector (including participants in local culture), the private sector and state agencies. With the decentralisation of competencies to local (and now regional) authorities, and also partly as a consequence of the ‘pro-democratic alliance’ with civil society groups during the era of the last Mečiar government, local self-government is increasingly seen as the natural embodiment of a community's identity, with a moral as well as practical responsibility for the development of local cultural life. Several examples demonstrate how local culture benefits from the interaction of these various actors in flexible partnerships, exploiting the specific skills each one brings. The examples also show the resilience of local culture, even under difficult social and economic conditions, wherever there exists a core of committed activists. Local culture - as the multifaceted expression of the ‘personality’ of a place - has a vital role to play in mobilising a community’s human potential, enabling communities to respond constructively to social transformation and thereby participate meaningfully in democratisation.

Sociológia 2001 Vol 33 (No. 6: 569-592)