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'The Son Has Ploughed', But a Foreign Son: Five Case Studies on Transformation Strategies in Czech Agriculture after 1989

[journal article]

Nespor, Zdenek R.

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Abstract European agriculture has recently undergone important changes connected with the reorientation of EU policy towards regional, recreational, and land-use subsidies, and owing to the internal divergence in agriculture itself, which has led to large ‘industrial’ farming companies on the one hand and small, ecological farms on the other. During the period of transformation, the Czech agricultural sector has been forced to confront these changes and full stability remains a long way in the future. Transformation has thus brought both advantages and disadvantages to all the players involved. The former include the existence of large-scale farms, relatively highly skilled workers, and a cheap labour force, which make Czech agriculture competitive on a European scale. On the other hand, Czech attitudes towards work and respect for the property of others are inadequate; production efficiency and quality are low, whereas the expectations of farmers are high. Czech entrepreneurs have opted for relatively strict, unsocial, win-win strategies and understand their business simply in terms of material profit. Conversely, Western businessmen active in the Czech Republic more highly value the long-term profit, social ties and the symbolic functions of agriculture, though that does not mean they would not prefer ‘industrial’ forms of farming. The main problem of Czech agriculture is thus the absence of family-type farms rooted in their local, social environment, and there is only limited potential for this to develop. Unfortunately, this fact creates the threat of a ‘two-speed’ European agriculture: the Western model, combining both small and ‘industrial’ farms, and the Eastern model, focusing solely on extensive large-scale farming.
Keywords transformation
Classification Sociology of Economics; Rural Sociology
Free Keywords sociology of agriculture; economic sociology; Czech Republic 1993–; migrations
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 1171-1194
Journal Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review, 42 (2006) 6
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications