Overview of the activities of the research group on rural sociology of the Estonian University of Agriculture

The research group on rural sociology at the Estonian University of Agriculture has carried out eight studies in 1992 - 1995. There also exist data about the earlier research. These studies have been conducted jointly by the members of the research group. The leader of the research group is Asser Murutar, head of the Institute of Philosophy and Rural Sociology at the Estonian University of Agriculture. The research group on rural sociology studies the process of transforming Estonian rural society, the functioning of various institutions in the countryside, different groups of rural inhabitants and their problems, the production in the countryside and the difficulties it is facing, as well as local culture. All these problems are examined in their mutual relationships.

The main research items:

Economic life: economic attitudes, estimations about one`s own situation; economic coping; land use and changes in it; becoming a landowner, monetary and fiscal operations with land; obstacles in the economic development; the chanches of economic development; labor potential; unemployment; labor market; enterprising; the forms of entrepreneurship, outlooks, perspectives; the beginning of transnationalization of food production; state`s invasion into the production; the arrival of foreign purchasers and sellers; the displacement of Estonian producers; possibilities for capital generation and accumulation; farm economy; partnership and cooperating; deepening of the barter economy; outlooks for ecological agriculture; market and market appraisals; traditional sectors of economy; technical and technological processes; integration with forein countries, etc.

Life quality: the adaptation of rural people to new conditions, clarification of attitudes toward education and the need for information and counselling, life mode; living standard; mental adaptation; self-assessment; the developmment of infrastructure; problems of proprietorship; impoverishment; the situation and changes in the natural, social, socio-psychological and psychological conditions; identity; human relations; demographic situation; home and the family; employment and working conditions; education, schools; leisure time; health; social security, etc.

Cultural life: values and norms; traditions; the advent of postindustrial society; the intrusion of Western mass culture; national and cultural identity; the protection of national culture; desovietization; languages; cultural differences and the economic and social situation; the integration with foreign countries, etc.

Research methods include classical surveys in the form of interview and the questionnaire, studies of documents and diaries, so called action sociology etc.

Data processing uses all widespread methods of analysis (frequency tables, means, correlations, the regression, factor, and cluster analysis, multidimensional scaling, geoinformatinal methods (GIS), graphic data presentations, etc) The samples are drawn according to the needs and goals of the research. One of the chief principles is proceeding from the type of rural community (village, rural municipality, small town, etc).

Time schedule: Carrying out a new study takes usually 3 - 6 months. Generally we prefer to consider research as a process. The time of analyzing the material depends on the scope of human work.

The members of the research group and people who have participated in the studies

In addition there are under- and postgraduate students who major in rural sociology.


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Kreutzwaldi 64, EE2400 Tartu, tel.(27) 422 033