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   Course Title    Rural Sociology
Lecturer    Srdjan Sljukic
Institution    University of Novi Sad
Country    Yugoslavia

This two-semester course is designed for the third year graduate students of sociology at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad. The course is based on 50:50 lectures/seminars formula.

The aim of the course is to provide the students with basic knowledge of rural sociology problems, which includes the basic theoretical concepts and findings of empirical studies. The students will be encouraged to develop a specific sociological way of thinking upon society, especially rural society. Special attention will be paid to the most recent changes and developments in rural areas (so-called "post-socialist transformation period").

The course is situated in the third year of sociology studies because this is the year when special sociological disciplines, like sociology of work, sociology of culture, etc. are taught, after students have successfully completed the courses of Introduction to Sociology and General Sociology at the first and the second year of studies. The curriculum has been designed to lead the student from more general to more specific problems and knowledge.

The lectures will be, as much as possible, interactive ones, to let the students ask not only clarification questions, but also all sorts of questions related to the topic presented. The students are obliged to read the mandatory readings and three books from the recommended readings. During the school year each student has to write an essay on the topic chosen by a student and agreed with the teacher. The seminars will include presentations of the students’ essays and group discussion about the topic. Each lecture and seminar will last for one and a half hours, which means three hours a week total. As the rule, after a lecture on a topic, a seminar on the same topic follows.

Week No. 1: Introduction

The aim of the first lecture/seminar is presentation of the course itself, its importance and place in the curriculum, gathering possible student suggestions about how the things should be done in the course and, eventually, choosing and distribution of the topics for essays the students should write.

Week No. 2: Rural sociology as a sociological discipline

Constitution and development of rural sociology. Its relation to other sociological disciplines and to other social sciences (social anthropology, ethnology, agricultural economy and history). Rural sociology in Yugoslavia.

Week No. 3: Basic theoretical-methodological approaches in rural sociology

Presentation of and discussion about the main three theoretical-methodological approaches: monographic, typological, analytical and phenomenological. Their advantages and disadvantages when specific problems are treated. Which one to use in a given situation? Are the approaches complementary?

Week No. 4: Rural-urban differences

Architectonic and spatial differences. Rural and urban population. Ecology: Natural and artificial milieu. Sectors of economy. Character of work in the city and the village. Main features of social relations. Urban and rural society. Traditional culture, mass culture and elite culture.

Week No. 5: Rural and global society (I)

Rural society, peasantry and agriculture in a historical perspective. Peasantry and the structure of traditional society. Agricultural work and division of labor in traditional society. Rural population and land. Technical basis and social organization of agricultural production. Local community.

Week No. 6: Rural and global society (II)

The origin of modern societies. Their crucial characteristics. Traditional and modern societies. Modernization processes in rural areas. Industrialization and urbanization. Urbanism as a way of life. The most important changes in a traditional village. Rural-urban differences in modern societies.

Week No. 7: Notion and elements of agrarian and rural social structure

Population. Land tenure and peasant work. Techniques, technology and scientific knowledge. Agrarian policy. Peasant economy and settlement. Local social organization, values and norms.

Week No. 8: Social organization of local community

Notion and sorts of social institutions and organizations. Defining local community. Social groups in a village: family, neighborhood, generation and gender groups. Social institutions and organizations in a village: economic, political, religious, educational, etc. Rural and urban local community. Differences between traditional and modern local community.

Week No. 9: Peasant economy and changes in agrarian structure

Principles of traditional peasant economy. Traditional peasant work. From simple tools to modern agricultural machines. Old agrarian relations in Europe in general and in Southeastern Europe specifically. Modernization and changes of the agrarian structure. Economy of a farmer. Agrarian policy.

Week No. 10: Rural family

Status and roles in traditional peasant family. Women, the young and the elderly. Peasant family and urban family in traditional societies: differences and similarities. Peasant family as a production unit. Family and household. Master or manager? Changes in family status and roles brought with modernization. Rural and urban families in modern societies.

Week No. 11: Peasantry as a social stratum and a political and historical factor

The place of peasantry in the stratification system. Peasantry between feudalism and capitalism. Marx and Weber on peasantry as a class. The role of peasantry in social revolutions. Bolshevism and peasantry. Peasants and farmers in politics. Serbian peasantry as a historical and political factor.

Week No. 12: Traditional rural culture

Notion and elements of culture and patterns of culture. Inseparability of rational and irrational contents, of collective and individual, of everyday life and work and cultural creation. Anonymity of creators of culture. Oral transfer of culture. Closed society, closed culture: the slowness of changes. Hierarchy of values. The role of religion and science. Rural way of life.

Week No. 13: Innovations in rural areas

Creation and diffusion of innovations. Innovations in agriculture. Innovations in everyday life: housing, diet, clothing. The changes of the social mentality of peasants.

Week No. 14: Agrarian reforms and colonization in Yugoslavia

Historical destiny of the Serbian peasantry. The role of the peasantry in World War I and the Liberation and Civil war. The reasons behind the decisions to implement the reforms. The process of implementation. The outcome of the reforms. Why colonization? The consequences of agrarian reforms and colonization.

Week No. 15: Peasantry and the socialist system in Yugoslavia

Peasants as private proprietors. Unsuccessful collectivization of agriculture. "Socialization of agriculture". The period of general co-operatives. Co-operation between state-controlled agricultural enterprises and peasants. Self-management and peasantry. Limited modernization. Underdog position of the peasantry. Peasantry in the other Eastern European countries.

Week No. 16: Tribes, brotherhoods and villages in Montenegro

The emergence of Serbian feudal states. Main features of feudalism in Serbian states. The Turks and disappearance of higher classes. Re-appearance of old social structure. Old Montenegro. Tribes and brotherhoods in old Montenegro. The processes of modernization and changes in the old structures.

Week No. 17: Serbian religion and mythology

Serbian religion before adoption of Christianity. Old Serbian pantheon. The relation between the Serbian paganism and Christianity. The origin and role of patron saints. St. Sava as the founder of the independent Serbian church. St. Sava in the folk tradition. The role of the Serbian Orthodox Church after the Turkish occupation and disappearance of the nobility. The Serbian Orthodox Church today.

Week No. 18: Peasants-workers in Yugoslavia after the World War II

Industrialization and urbanization as modernization processes. The slowness of industrialization in Yugoslavia before World War II. The project of modernization designed by the communist elite. The gap between de-agrarization and urbanization and the appearance of peasants-workers. The main characteristics of peasants-workers stratum. Peasants-workers in the social structure. The future of peasants-workers.

Week No. 19: Post-socialist transformation in agriculture and in rural areas

The internal contradictions of the socialist system and external pressure. The breakup of the socialist system in Eastern Europe. New position of agriculture and peasantry. Dismantling of the kolkhoz system. New agents in agriculture. Differentiation among peasants. Changes in the social structure.

Week No. 20: Southeastern Europe and European Union enlargement – agriculture and rural development

The role of the Common Agricultural Policy in European integration. The European Union and power relations in the world. The position and importance of Southeastern Europe. The European Union enlargement as the common interest. What is SAPARD? The consequences of the enlargement in agriculture and rural areas.

Week No. 21: Future of agriculture and peasantry

Tendencies of change in rural areas. The end of peasantry in the West. Peasantry disappears, but "peasant" (as an adjective) remains: the patterns of culture. The importance of agriculture in the contemporary world. Food and power.


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