On 22nd September, 2022 Simona Ščerbinskaitė will defed her doctoral dissertation entitled ‘Rural Community Organizations in Lithuania: Participation, Leadership and Local Vitality (the Case of Remote Rural Settlements)‘.

Scientific supervisor:
Senior researcher Dr Edikas Kriaučiūnas (Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005).

The dissertation will be defended at the Council of Sociology of Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences and Kaunas University of Technology:

Chairman:
Prof. Dr Saulius Stanaitis (Vytautas Magnus University, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005) Members:

Members:

  • Chief researcher Dr Jolanta Aidukaitė (Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005);
  • Senior researcher Dr Margarita Gedvilaitė-Kordušienė (Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005);
  • Dr Zaiga Krišjāne (University of Latvia, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005);
  • Dr Jurgita Mačiulytė (Vilnius University, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005).

The official defence of the dissertation will be held at the meeting of the Council of Sociology at 1:00 p.m. on 22 September 2022 in the Conference Hall of Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences.
Address: A. Goštautas str. 9, Vilnius, Lithuania.


Annotation of Doctoral Dissertation

The Lithuanian rural settlement system underwent many changes.  Over the last three decades, the rural areas of Lithuania have lost more than 270,000 inhabitants, according to the 2021 data, more than 4,000 rural settlements were already uninhabited. Other rural settlements face unemployment, a decline in public infrastructure,  an aging population, and other challenges. Rural community organizations (RCOs) are a significant player in this model as a tool to mobilize and empower local human resources. For this reason, these organizations were chosen as the research object of the dissertation. By actively operating, RCOs can mitigate ongoing negative changes to maintain or strengthen the vitality of an area, which is often identified as one of the objectives of rural development. The analysis of the network of rural community organizations, which plays a significant role both in the formation of regional rural policy and in the development of local rural areas, allows to assess of the actual implementation of the country’s “bottom-up” development policy, and the potency of the local vitality. The dissertation presents a detailed analysis of the network of Lithuanian rural community organizations and its features: size; attributes of its constituent elements; characteristics of the activities carried out; and territorial distribution. Triangulation was used to gain a clearer understanding of the research object and involved both the application of quantitative and qualitative research methods and an analysis of primary and secondary empirical data. This allowed detailed analysis of rural community organizations at the macro (national) and micro (specific rural areas) levels and helped to clarify the operational challenges that they face, and to assess the links between the activity of rural community organizations and local vitality.