Přednáška zahraničního experta: Gari RAAGMAA

9 Říjen 2013 17:00

Přednáška zahraničního experta: Gari RAAGMAA

Leadership, social capital and territorial identity

Some regions achieve better results in development than others because of different levels of social capital. Communities with high level of social capital, with people taking care other people and their place – with strong territorial “we”-identity –, have a higher level of mutual trust and great motivation to take part in community actions. However, interconnected tight socially bonded relations are normally reproduced within the social groups and territories; growing bonding social capital increases and locality tends to be locked in.

Leaders are catalysts of changes. Leadership mattes always in geographic peripheries, where thin institutional set up exists. The role of single persons is also greater during great changes and chaos when confident initiative (of a leader) founds followers. When additional challenges appear, à la high cultural/social diversity, leaders have to solve conflicts, act as middlemen and gradually change people’s values on daily basis, actually they have change existing and strengthen new institutions, this means also to build a new common (territorial) identity.

Territorial identity and nationalism (patriotism) as one its form has been one of the most powerful collective mobilising factors in the 20th century. Territorial identity building may also become an administrative strategy, which helps to mobilise actors for regional development. Institutionalised territorial solidarity (common territory, values, symbols and institutions) maintains the image of the region and serves as the criteria for identity-building among the inhabitants. But a region carries its established identity and image in the minds of both local inhabitants and outsiders too.

The aim of this paper is to analyse leadership and governance of two peripheral localities Vormsi and Noarootsi which are both characterised by discontinued „Rannarootsi“ (coastal Swedish) cultures. These communities almost entirely lost their native population during the WWII. When Estonia regain it's independence and applied wide restitution of former ownership, descendants’ of former Swedish owners could return their properties. Many Swedish people set up their summer cottages; others sold their land to mostly Estonian city people. All these changes engendered numerous conflicts and were quite challenging for local governance and leadership.

We can conclude according to first results that Vormsi and Noarootsi are still influenced by Estonian-Swedish culture. The 1990´s period was very much influenced by emotional load accompanied by the return of Estonian-Swedish. Vormsi and Noarootsi behaved quite differently when welcoming former owners and their heirs. Because of blood relationship, but also because of the numerous benefits to the municipality, mayor of Noarootsi started collaborative relations with Estonian-Swedish people. This benefitted development of Noarootsi as open and more solidary society and breed bridging social capital and trust. On the other hand, because of the lack of leadership Vormsi – they have had 12 mayors in the office during 1991-2009 –, the return of Swedish people and restitution of their land ownership accelerated conflicts and caused low trust relations on the municipality level.

However, we couldn’t notice any particular differences in official number of NGOs between two cases. Also, if the municipality level experienced different leadership practices then on the village level people’s intermediate relations do not differ much, rather there were more social issues in some Noarootsi villages. Lately, Estonian-Swedish culture tends to vanish in both localities, mainly because of limited presence of Swedish people and low interest of heirs who have very little or no memories from these localities.

On the other hand, the identity of the region has obtained quite different forms eg. „Rannarootsi“ as a new capitalist narrative: retail and food companies trade-mark. Thus, we also attempt to analyse how these narratives are received by local people and how they challenging personal and “we”identities.

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