Working Paper 105

Local State and Social Security in Rural Communities: a new research agenda and the example of postsocialist Europe

Tatjana Thelen, Andrew Cartwright and Thomas Sikor

Project Group Legal Pluralism

Year of publication

Number of pages

Working Paper 105

The aim of this paper is to contribute to the development of a new research agenda on and theoretical approach to the relation between local state formations and social security arrangements in rural areas. We argue that an analysis of these relations will enhance our understanding of the state in rural settings and of its interrelation to other networks of power. Social security is central for these relations. By adopting an anthropological definition of social security, we aim to overcome dichotomies of formal state and informal help as well as between state and non-state activities. We propose to address the topic by analysing and comparing access to the different kinds of resources distributed or mediated by local state actors. The paper starts with a general introduction to the theoretical framework and then gives an overview on existing research on the issues with special attention to postsocialist areas. Recent changes in the fields of state action have been especially profound in this region. Nevertheless we suggest that the proposed framework allows for fruitful application and comparison with other regions as well.

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