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Out of balance? Understanding resident-municipality relations in rural peripheries through ascriptions of responsibility

GND
1197829032
ORCID
0000-0003-0120-506X
Affiliation
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Göttingen, Wilhelmsplatz 1, Göttingen, Germany
Bischof, Susann;
ORCID
0000-0002-3867-3935
Affiliation
Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Jilská 1, Praha 1, Czech Republic
Decker, Anja

Rural governance increasingly involves a broad range of political agents – but whom do rural dwellers consider responsible for creating and maintaining local opportunity structures? Focusing on the issue of places to socialise, our paper investigates resident-municipality relations in peripheralised rural regions of Czechia and eastern Germany. We draw from problem-centred resident interviews using an actor-centred, multimodal concept of responsibility. Analysing residents’ ideals of active citizenship, mutuality, and municipal care, we find that despite the considerable differences in the ways rural dwellers conceptualise the relationship between the municipality and its residents, the provision of local opportunities to socialise represents a realm in which they perceive the local state as both powerful and responsible for taking action. We conclude that a multimodal understanding of responsibility can provide insights into the normative conditions on which local attributions of responsibility are based. We further argue that research on rural facilities should take into account the symbolic and political meaning that third places have for rural residents.

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