New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Hans Westlund and Kiyoshi Kobayashi
Chapter 7: Social capital in rural Poland: between tradition and social engineering
Despite the fact that nowadays ever fewer people derive their living directly from agriculture and in several countries rural areas have faced depopulation coupled with economic decline, the future of the countryside continues to be discussed all over the world. Moreover, the spectrum of policies debated and directed at rural areas seems to be on an increase, while their financial backing, at least in the European Union and the United States, is maintained at a relatively high level. Apart from critical accounts that argue for a disproportionally strong bargaining power of the agricultural producer lobbies, this state of affairs is consistently explained by the specific and multifunctional nature of rural resources as compared to other types of productive assets and public goods known in modern societies. Furthermore, alongside the rise of leisure societies and creative economies on the upside and the deterioration of the quality of life in many urban areas on the downside, not a few countries have witnessed some renewed interest in rural areas both as residential areas, tourism and heritage spots, innovation hotbeds and finally spaces where a Green Deal might stand a better chance of taking off. Yet, in many cases, including Poland, the countryside continues to breed at least as many fears of developmental problems as hopes for opportunities.
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