Serbia has a continuity of reforms in agriculture throughout the whole 20th century, and very contrasting outcomes. This project questions whether the existing institutional settings, individual strategies and agricultural policies are sufficient elements for rural development and betterment of peasantry in Serbia. The time frame of this research is spanning from year 2000, when Serbia officially undertook liberal democratic reforms, until the present day. This period is of particular significance given the fact that democratic governments since 2000 onward have been committed to professionalization, modernization as well as improvement of competitiveness of Serbian agriculture within the region and Europe. The focus of research is present-day village Gaj in south Banat, Vojvodina province.
Objectives of the project
This project argues that state institutions, policies, development strategies and blueprints, are not necessary condition for the change and betterment of rural areas and peasantry in Serbia. Instead, the narrative of the project discovers that non-institutional factors play very important, and sometimes even decisive, role in accepting or rejecting agricultural reforms and policies. Therefore, the goal of the project is to demonstrate how neglected factors such as peasants` autonomy, ethics, self-perception, shame, attitudes, habits, local values and ideas play significant role in the process of rural development. These symbolical values taken together explain the behavior of peasants and affect their reaction to agricultural policies.
Scientific and social context
Being a part of post-socialist Europe, Serbia and its agriculture have remained on the margins of scientific interest. There were no systemic ethnographic or sociological studies of post-socialist agricultural transformation in Serbia. Due to such scientific negligence of the region there is a justified need for systematic research.
On the other hand, there is very poor knowledge in society what is actually happening with Serbian villages after number of very turbulent decades. Due to this reason, there is a justified need for a detailed research that will demonstrate in balanced and well-argued way successes and pitfalls of transitional politics and reforms in Serbian agriculture.