Whose integration?

The changing position of the local elite in maintaining social order in a peripheral small town



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strategic action field theory, institutional change, project class, local agency, local social order


Lingering spatial disparities within the EU have often been explained by macro-level structural trends. However, studies have also spelt out the role of local agency in organising social integration processes through local institutional arrangements. The agency of socially skilled local actors is acquired by recombining various resources and denotes their capacity to (re)negotiate the web of local relations and membership in the community through the distribution of developmental goods and controlling access to services. Informed by theories of development as institutional change and strategic action field theory, our paper analyses the evolution and action of this local project class in organising social order by acting as brokers between the institutional environment and local institutional arrangements. Our research question hinges upon the process through which the project class (re)combines resources in order to maintain local social order based on their own perceptions and visions of the locality. Empirical evidence was gathered through various qualitative research projects over two decades, supplemented by recent follow-up interviews with the same actors in a small peripheral town in northern Hungary. Our extended research indicates that maintaining local social order derives from the local elite’s perceptions of spatial injustice, which means maintaining pre-existing social and class positions. This is a highly selective process and reflects degrees of vulnerability within the local community.




How to Cite

Keller, J.Z. and Virág, T. 2024. Whose integration? : The changing position of the local elite in maintaining social order in a peripheral small town. Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics. 9, 4 (Mar. 2024), 101–122. DOI:https://doi.org/10.17356/ieejsp.v9i4.1174.



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