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Global and local processes generating and reproducing rural poverty

Working Group 21: Global and local processes generating and reproducing rural poverty

Ildikó Asztalos Morell
Uppsala University, Sweden

Poverty emerges in the context or local, national and international processes of differentiation. Economic growth as well as welfare state interventions provide the framework within which the process of regional differentiation evolves creating developing regions on the one hand and regions characterized with economic stagnation serving as ground for marginalization and poverty. Beyond structural roots of poverty, differential access to cultural and social capital (Bourdieu, Putnam) contributes to social inequalities. The ongoing global turn towards global neo-liberal and conservative welfare regimes (Castells) contribute to the weakening of safety-net for personal or work-related insecurities. Work-fare takes over welfare principles, emphasizing the moral obligation to work while blaming those finding themselves on the margins for bad work morals. The deservingness of eligibility to obtain subsidies becomes all the more moralized and restricted as well as ethnified.

The role of civil society initiatives increases in mediating poverty. According to models of governance EU funds (regional and social) are to inject resources defined by local agents, which are to enhance economic growth and combat poverty. However, projectification assumes advocacy which the most impoverished regions and groups lack.

Social differentiation is increasing (Piketty) boosted by economic restructuring combined with budgetary pressures from international monetary agencies leading to major welfare cut-downs in transition economies. Those on the margins find themselves accepting precarious work conditions (Standing). Large segments of the population seek jobs abroad creating a precarious labour category with insecure welfare entitlements in immigration societies as well as often contribute to worsening labour status for the local workforce within the areas where they obtain employment. Migrants provide key resources for their broken families left behind. While certain regions and populations emerge as mobile, others remain in stagnation without being able to use the opportunities of migration for the improvement of the living conditions of the community.

In Southern Europe rural areas offer a refuge to the crisis ridden urban populations and seem to behave more resilient to the pressing neo-liberal policies. Despite the pressures on the convergence of segmented labour markets in the period of crisis in the South there still seems to be a resistance by nationals to enter 3D jobs occupied so far by migrants. As a result, in these jobs migrants still predominate making the situation more complicated. In Eastern Europe (as the case of Hungary) contra-selective mobility patterns emerge, enhancing rural segregation and differentiation between welfare dependent and flourishing rural spaces.