Trust, Property and Social Change in a Southern Slovakian Village

by Davide Torsello

LIT-Verlag: Münster, 2003

Year of publication



Slovakia is a young and little studied country of the former socialist bloc. As in all postsocialist Eurasia, continuing transformations of everyday practices are still inadequately understood. This study combines anthropological and historical methods to search for alternative ways of “reading postsocialism” in the rural community. More specifically, it applies the notions of trust and property to map the outcomes of over a hundred years of turbulent social change, but not in the way that mainstream economists and political scientists have used these concepts. Trust and property acquire analytic significance only when contextualised into the practices and ideologies of the actors. This allows the observer to grasp the nuances of apparently ambivalent behaviour and “uttered mistrust” in other villagers and local institutions. Ambiguity veils subtle strategies for keeping up with the instability of the times and obtaining the best one can from the present. By providing a theoretically grounded ethnographical account of historical transformation the book makes an original anthropological contribution to the classic theme of social change in rural societies, while at the same time engaging constructively with other social science approaches to postsocialism.

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