Village heads: civic participation in the grassroots level of local self-government

Release:

2020, Vol. 4. № 4 (14)

Title: 
Village heads: civic participation in the grassroots level of local self-government


For citation: Guzhavina T. A. 2020. “Village heads: civic participation in the grassroots level of local self-government”. Siberian Socium, vol. 4, no. 4 (14), pp. 54-66. DOI: 10.21684/2587-8484-2020-4-4-54-66

About the author:

Tatyana A. Guzhavina, Cand. Sci. (Philos.), Associate Professor, Leading Researcher, Vologda Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Vologda, Russian Federation); ORCID: 0000-0003-0636-7690; Web of Science ResearcherID: R-4871-2017; tanja_gta@mail.ru

Abstract:

Rural areas make up a large part of the country, where almost a quarter of its population live. However, in many ways these are the most problematic areas. There are restrictions for the population in their access to economic and social resources, which reduces the living standards and leads to its outflow. In ensuring the living standards of the rural population, the role of local self-government is significant. Local self-government, which is the grassroots level of public authority, is focused on solving local issues. It has a rather complex structure, with village heads at the foundation. The activities of the heads are regulated by federal and regional legislation. They embody the unity of the collective and the individual, occupying an intermediate position between the structures of public authority and the local population. Their activities are quite diverse and can be classified as socially useful. As an object of research, this group is underexplored. The purpose of this article is to analyze the activities of rural heads as citizens and as representatives of the grassroots level of local self-government, considered as a form of civic participation. In this connection, a pilot research project was implemented which covered the heads of rural settlements in villages belonging to the Cherepovets Municipal District of the Vologda Region. This is a fairly large group in the LSG structure. There are 280 of them only in the Cherepovets District. An expert survey and a semi-structured interview were the source of empirical information. Village heads of 20 villages represented themselves as informants. The study showed that, on the one hand, the heads quite consciously perform their main function, acting as representatives of the inhabitants of their village; on the other hand, they provide communication between the population and the administration of rural settlements. Many think of themselves as activists — however, not all of them perceive their activities as socially useful: some believe that they do routine things out of necessity. The civic component in the activities of village heads is expressed quite clearly. For many of them, the reason for participation is the desire to solve any meaningful problem, some are aware of the need to influence the government. The heads quite realistically represent the barriers that exist in local self-government and prevent the intensification of the participation of rural inhabitants in it. Taking into account the large number and social significance of this population group, it makes sense to study it further.

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