On 14th of May, 2021 Viktorija Baranauskienė defended her doctoral dissertation entitled “Socio-spatial exclusion in sparsely populated territories of Lithuania”.

The doctoral dissertation was carried out at the Lithuanian Social Research Centre in 2016–2020 in accordance with the right granted to Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuanian Social Research Centre (at the present day Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences) and Kaunas University of Technology (2019 February 22, order No. V-160, amendment – 2021 January 18, order No. V-75).

Under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania 11 November 2020 resolution No. 1260 due to reorganization of the Lithuanian Social Research Centre, the Lithuanian Institute of Agrarian Economics and the Law Institute of Lithuania into the Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, from 1 January 2021 the Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences took over the rights and obligations of the Lithuanian Social Research Centre, the Law Institute of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Institute of Agrarian Economics.

Scientific supervisor:
Chief researcher Dr Donatas Burneika (Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005) (since 1 April 2019);
Chief researcher Dr Vidmantas Daugirdas (Lithuanian Social Research Centre, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005) (until 17 February 2019).

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

Chairman:
Prof. Dr Eglė Butkevičienė (Kaunas University of Technology, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005).

Members:

  • Senior researcher Dr Inga Blažienė (Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005);
  • Prof. Dr Zaiga Krišjāne (University of Latvia, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005);
  • Senior researcher Dr Darius Liutikas (Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005);
  • Prof. Dr Saulius Stanaitis (Vytautas Magnus University, Social Sciences, Sociology, S 005).

Annotation

This doctoral dissertation examines the problems of socio-spatial exclusion in the sparsely populated rural areas of Lithuania. The rapid peripheralisation of such areas has led to the processes of depopulation, while the declining population density in such rural areas causes decrease in the number of institutions providing different socially important services. Such a shrinkage of the service network increases exclusion and further reduces the population size. It has been determined that approximately a fifth of the country’s population lives in the peripheral rural areas constituting the part of Lithuania that loses its population most rapidly. Most of these areas can be attributed to sparsely populated areas where population density is ≤ 12.5 inhabitants/km2. The number of such areas is increasing and, in the near future, nearly all non-suburban rural areas will be sparsely populated. The service institutions are unevenly distributed across the territory of the country and the rate of their decline also varies. An increasing proportion of the public service institutions are concentrated in the municipal administrative centres; therefore, the actual socio-spatial exclusion of the peripheral elderships (LAU-2 regions) where the network of institutions is already sparser, increases even more. The decisions of local actors, at least in the short term, determine where and when specific institutions are closed; thus, the processes of socio-spatial exclusion are determined not only by the rate of depopulation. These decisions not always are optimal in view of the emerging settlement structure and the geographical location of the area. The optimisation of the network of institutions according to the new geodemographic reality is inevitable, but it must be carried out taking into consideration the territorial characteristics defining the processes of depopulation and changes in the population structure as well as the geographical location of the settlements.