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Towards a Sociological Constructivist Approach to  Rural  Mountain Areas. Recent Developments of Policies, Practices and Performers

Ion IONESCU1, Gheorghe Mihai BÂRLEA2
1 “Al. I. Cuza” University, Faculty of Phylosophy and Social Sciences, Iaşi, ROMANIA
2 North University of Baia Mare, Faculty of Letters, Baia Mare, ROMANIA
Pages: 43-60

Abstract. After a short presentation of the mountain area from a sociological point of view (containing general data, aspects of the advantages it offers, about the influences, opportunities and dangers of globalization), the authors recall the ideas stated in the Ecological Chart of the Mountain Regions in Europe, and propose a conceptual framework (as a necessary condition for any policy, which is based on the mountain space), starting from economic, social and environmental indicators; special attention is given to maintain a rigorous approach, so that the concepts might become operational (without forgetting that the metalanguage used can, sometimes, leave room for subjective interpretations). Then, certain characteristics of the rural mountain area are identified, their specific features within a European and a Romanian context, as well as the life conditions in this space - based on the data and the information that appear in statistics, in various outcomes of researches of different disciplines, in national sources, in a number of databases etc. Due to its specificity, the issue of the rural mountain area has to be treated with much precaution (in order that a collective ample European and national action can be implemented). Thus, alongside the study of the soil and its natural characteristics, it is important that we highlight the results of studies in demographics, in the endangered community spaces, in the prevention measures, as well as a study of the spatial and temporal components and the conditions of developing communities in mountain areas. This type of methodological enterprise implies multiple interconnections between natural sciences and social sciences. The authors propose the concept of local ecosystem-village, in which the practical activities of the local actors is individualized. Then, they identify the main ideas from the specific legislation regarding the mountain area in the EU and Romania, the nowadays world-wide preoccupation in this domain (FAO exigencies) and in the EU, as well as various (trans)national institutions, agreements, initiatives and tools. A useful chapter is dedicated to the sociological analysis in elaborating a policy for the mountain area (the importance of the level of political engagement, of the implication of the private sector as well as of the local communities, the inhabitants of these areas themselves, in showing the importance of an equilibrium between the technical evaluation and the local involvement, and of a long-term vision that gives good justifications for its priorities). Within this context, we present a scheme for the development of the community space - Towards a Balanced and Long-lasting Spatial Development of the Territory of the European Union. The present-day situation of the rural mountain area in our country is presented on the basis of the data in the PNDR, and of a SWOT analysis of various mountain communities (the structure of the economy in the rural mountain area, the forests, the main dangers for the mountain, for the cultural heritage, as well as the effects of the physical and psychological isolation of its inhabitants). The authors mention a number of political options, of strategies and objectives for the development of the mountain areas, of the less favoured mountain communities (the justification of the priorities in the Strategic National Plan, and the Law regarding the outdoor activities, etc.).

K e y w o r d s:  rural mountain areas, sociological constructivist approach, policies, practices, performers