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The role of human capital in the integration process of peripheral regions into regional structures of Czechia in context of new Europe
Grant project of the Czech Science Foundation No. 403/07/0743 (2007–2009)
Vít Jančák, Tomáš Havlíček, Pavel Chromý, Silvie Kučerová, Miroslav Marada
Martina Hupková, Viktor Květoň, Jan Pileček, Tomáš Seidl, Jan Skála, Petra Vondráčková, Ondřej Žíla
Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science, Department of Social Geography and Regional Development
Regional Differentiation of Selected Conditions for the Development of Human and Social Capital in Czechia
JANČÁK, V., HAVLÍČEK, T., CHROMÝ, P., MARADA, M. (2008): Regional Differentiation of Selected Conditions for the Development of Human and Social Capital in Czechia. Geografie – Sborník ČGS, 113, 3, 269–284.
Differences in the availability of transport possibilities in Czech municipalities and socio-geographical micro-regions
MARADA, M., KVĚTOŇ, V. (2010): Diferenciace nabídky dopravních příležitostí v českých obcích a sociogeografických mikroregionech. Geografie, 115, 1, 21–43.
Can Social Capital Be Measured? An analysis of territorial differences among the districts of Czechia
PILEČEK, J., JANČÁK, V. (2010): Je možné měřit sociální kapitál? Analýza územní diferenciace okresů Česka. Geografie, 115, 1, 78–95.
The concept of social capital: an attempt to summarize theoretical and methodological points-of-departure and approaches to its study
PILEČEK, J. (2010): Koncept sociálního kapitálu: pokus o přehled teoretických a metodických východisek a aplikačních přístupů jeho studia. Geografie, 115, 1, 64–77.
Problems concerning the integration of marginal regions into the regional system: the case of the Boletice Military Training Area
SEIDL, T., CHROMÝ, P. (2010): Problémy integrace marginálního území do regionálního systému příklad Vojenského újezdu Boletice. Geografie, 115, 1, 44–63.
Inner and outer periphery: example of Czechia
HAVLÍČEK, T., CHROMÝ, P., JANČÁK, V., MARADA, M. (2008): Innere und äußere Peripherie am Beispiel Tschechiens. Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft, 150, 299–316.
THEORETICAL AND METHODOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF THE IDENTIFICATION AND DELIMITATION OF PERIPHERAL AREAS
The deepening dichotomy between core and periphery is an expression of globalisation processes, at a worldwide scale, as well as a manifestation of transformation processes, at a national scale. Research on this dichotomy and on the question of the polarisation of space, in general, has been a popular topic for geographic research in recent years. The objective of this article is to present an overview and discussion of selected theoretical and methodological aspects of research on peripheral areas. Attention is given to the concept of polarisation of space as a central theoretical point of departure in studying peripheral areas. A second no-less significant objective of the submitted article is to define certain fundamental terms, used in studies of peripheral areas, including a discussion of their delimitation. We give special attention to clarifying differences in the perception of the terms marginality and peripherality, because the meaning of these terms is understood differently by many authors. An extensive portion of the article is devoted to a basic overview and discussion of definitions for marginality and peripherality. This includes a summary of fundamental approaches, which can offer insight in defining marginal/peripheral areas. We have also attempted to create something of a subjective categorization of selected definitions. As part of the issue of evaluating the polarisation of space, central methodological problems, which can be encountered in specific empirical studies, are discussed.
Selected theoretical approaches in research on the polarisation of space
In general terms, the polarisation of space can be understood as a legitimate result of the development of the hierarchical organisation of geographic systems. The creation of cores (centres) and peripheries, as two extreme poles of polarised space, is a logical and natural outcome of the structural-functional differentiation of space. The concept of core (centre) and periphery represents one of the key models of geographic research and is considered by many authors to be a fundamental theoretical point of departure in studying marginal/peripheral areas (Cullen, Pretes 2000; Jussila 1998; Leimgruber 2004).
In the past, a large number of authors focused on the polarisation of space. They tried to explain the factors behind the uneven socioeconomic development of regions, which in turn leads to the emergence of core and peripheral areas. Scientists began to closely monitor this process in the 1930s, discovering that it was, for the most part, motivated by a series of dramatic events, which had an impact on economic unevenness. These primarily included the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange and events connected with World War II (Sommers, Mehretu, Pigozzi 1999). One of the first authors to focus on the polarisation of space was W. Christaller in his central places theory (1933/1966 taken from Blažek, Uhlíř 2002). This theory was based on fundamental geographic patterns, i.e. a decline in the number of centres dependent on their significance (Blažek, Uhlíř 2002). Central and non-central (peripheral) areas differ, according to Christaller, in whether or not they provide central functions, in pursuit of which residents from non-central places must commute to meet their needs. Distance can, therefore, be considered a basic criterion in determining peripherality. In spite of unrealistic assumptions and deficiencies (e.g. purely geometric approach – settlement system located on a homogenous plain, the entire theory ignores the impacts of history making it static in nature), according to Blažek and Uhlíř (2002), the central contribution of this theory lies in its attempt to explain the geographic organisation of society as a whole, including efforts to define a complete set of characteristics of the system of central places and regions. Böventer (1969) also focused on Christaller’s theory, attempting to summarize the contributions and weaknesses of its concepts. According to him, central places theory loses “…its explanatory power as soon as agglomeration economies become of paramount importance within very densely populated areas. The model has not been formulated so as to help solve the problems of the Ruhr area or of the big American metropolitan areas“ (pp. 123–124).
During the period following World War II, theories in the core-periphery group started to appear (e.g. the theory of growth poles, theory of cumulative causation, theory of uneven development and the theory of polarised development). These are so-called divergent theories, meaning that long-term uneven economic development leading to the emergence and deepening of regional differences is their central common feature and assumption. The theory of polarised development (core-periphery theory) is one of the most significant from this time period. Its author J. Friedmann first attempted to define the terms core and periphery and contributed a great deal in taking on the issue of researching the polarisation of space. This theory arises out of the premise that the fundamental distinguishing point between core and peripheral regions is their degree of autonomy, or rather their level of dependence on other regions (Blažek, Uhlíř 2002). A centre (core) is a region with a high degree of autonomy and the ability to create innovations; it is capable of grasping the central changes (impulses) of development. In contrast, a periphery is implicitly defined as an area, which has not grasped these changes (Havlíček, Chromý 2001). Friedmann also defined six cumulative mechanisms (effects), which cause polarisation between core and periphery to increase, contributing to further strengthening of the position of the core (the dominance effect, relations effect, information effect, psychological effect, modernization effect and production effect). Another of Friedmann’s contributions is the designation of four stages in the development of a spatial economy (the theory of polarized development represents the second of these stages of development): 1. pre-industrial society with local economic structures; 2. the emergence of a core-periphery polarity and its subsequent deepening (divergence); 3. the dispersion of economic activities and, to a lesser degree, administrative functions from the core to the periphery; 4. gradual integration, growth of interconnectivity and dependence between core and periphery. Hampl (2001, p. 316) reacted rather critically to this model. According to Hampl, making a distinction between the 3rd and 4th stages of development of a spatial economy is very debatable. In essence, this would mean “…the culmination of the diffusion of progress throughout the entire system and the attainment of the complete organisation of the system at a new, qualitatively improved level”. According to Hampl, such a thing has never happened with a societal system and could not happen, because “…the removal of differentiation would, essentially, lead to a cessation of development and to the degradation of the system…” In contrast, it is always “…only about attaining a certain level of suppression of unevenness, which should suffice for increasing the level of organisation and internal cooperation of a system”.
At the beginning of the 1980s, Gottmann (1980) conducted research on the polarisation of space and the core-periphery relationship, primarily from a political point-of-view. According to Gottmann, periphery is determined by physical geographic conditions, historical developments, political organisation and the strength of economic functions. In contrast, Reynaud (1981, taken from Leimgruber 1994) emphasizes the role of human activities, while combining a spatial model of core and periphery with a social configuration. He rejects the simple polarisation of space in the sense of core and periphery, because it assumes a certain evolution of this mutual relationship, indicated by its changing intensity (a so-called dynamic concept). It also includes the phenomenon of time, which means that nothing is final or definite. Historic developments can take place in a number of waves, in which the position of the core and periphery change. This means, for example, that the significance of a core, that loses its dominant role, can decline and, contrastingly, a periphery can separate itself from a core, strengthening its own significance. It is even possible for a mutual “exchange” of historical positions to occur. As an example, Leimgruber (2004) uses traditional industrial regions, which at one time ranked among the strongest economic areas (the Ruhr area, northeast England). Reynaud demonstrates his dynamic conception with a typology (see Table 1), in which flows of people and capital act as determinants in one column and raw material flows in the other. Altogether, he defines four types of centres, six types of periphery and seven differing relationships to describe their mutual combinations. Schuler and Nef (1983 taken from Havlíček, Chromý 2001) build on Reynaud’s ideas, in the sense of the continuity between core and periphery. “Core and periphery are not spatially separated, they merely exhibit changing degrees of centrality. It is not, therefore, so much a dichotomy between two extremes, but rather a continuum open to changes in time. A centre is, herein, simply located at the top of a so-called pyramid of power (Havlíček, Chromý 2001, p. 5).”
At a theoretical level, Havlíček and Chromý (2001) have also conducted research on the general principles and tendencies governing the development of the polarisation of space. IN connection with the first stage of Friedmann’s model for the development of a spatial economy, they defined four abstract developmental types of polarisation of space (increasing polarisation, stagnating polarisation, diminishing polarisation and equalizing polarisation), which take into account differentiated development of core (a centre) and periphery over time.
Marginality vs. peripherality: differences in perceiving and understanding both terms
In connection with research on the polarisation of space, we can encounter the terms marginality or peripherality. In geographic literature, both of these terms are viewed either as synonyms (in the circumstances of Czechia for instance, Havlíček and Chromý (2001) prefer this position), or in contrast both terms are duly separated on the basis of their meaning (Leimgruber 1994). According to this author, the core-periphery relationship is more geometric in nature, in the sense of the centre of a territory and its borders. On the other hand, the term marginality (or rather the relationship between core and marginal areas) has a somewhat broader application (meaning), as it implies a series of social, economic and political contingencies. According to Andreoli (1994 p. 41), the terms have the same meaning, whether from a philological or geographic point-of-view, i.e. “…something that is far from the centre…” Marginal regions, however, represent something of a further level of peripherality. Peripheral regions are at least partially integrated into an economic system, in contrast to marginal regions, which are economically isolated (located outside a system), “…they are excluded from political, social and economic decision-making processes (Mertins 1992 taken from Leimgruber 1994, p. 6).” Schmidt (1998) adds another perspective to the discussion. In compliance with the authors listed above, Schmidt does not perceive centre and periphery to be two isolated poles; she also speaks of a continuum. With the inclusion of marginal regions, though, a centre – periphery – marginal region continuum (see Fig. 1) is established. It only applies in the sense of socioeconomic relations and not in a geometric sense. A periphery is, naturally, in a subsidiary position in relation to the centre; however, it is, contrary to a marginal region, still integrated into a system.
Leimgruber (2004) documents the distinctness in the meaning of the two terms on the example of the work of authors Pieroni and Andreoli (1989). The mutual interactions of productive forces and market integration are depicted on a simple schema (fig. 2), wherein a high level is characteristic of a centre, while low levels are characteristic of peripheries. From the position of a marginal area (“margin”) it is clearly evident that “…marginal regions truly lie on the margin of a system or outside of the system (Leimgruber 2004, p. 49)”.
From the concise overview, included above, it is clear that the authors tend to support the notion of separating marginality and peripherality on the basis of a differing level of integration into the system, without defining clear boundaries that would be a condition of integration within a system or of complete exclusion from it. The peripherality of an area is connected with spatial (situational) characteristics such as distance and transport accessibility. Marginality, on the other hand, is shaped more by a “multi-dimensional” spectrum of problems, from economic and cultural to social, political and historical. We meet with differences in the understanding of both of these terms, within research on marginal/peripheral areas in Czechia. Periphery, peripherality and peripheral area are, in general, more frequent terms; however, the work of Vaishara (1999), who discusses marginality and marginal areas, presents an alternative example.
Definition of marginality/peripherality and marginal/peripheral areas
We can find a large number of definitions for marginality/peripherality in the literature. As has already been said, the terms marginality and peripherality are understood by different authors in a variety of ways. It is no different with attempts to define marginality/peripherality. On the one hand, the multi-dimensional conditionality of reality in a geographic sense, which leads to the emergence of a number of diverse types of peripheral areas and, consequently, to a number of approaches in understanding (defining) these regions, plays an important role. On the other hand, the subjective perceptions and point-of-view of a given author also play a significant role. For these reasons, an innumerable amount of concepts and definitions, which attempt to define marginality/peripherality, can be found in the literature. Due to this plurality, a universally valid definition, which would objectively explain this term and which would be viewed by the majority of authors as something of a “terminus technicus”, will never come about. From the information above, it is evident that marginality/peripherality can be determined in two fundamental, analytical frameworks. One of these views marginality/peripherality as an objective reality, while the other sees it as a subjective reality (Schmidt 1998). Marada (2001, p. 13) accurately captures the complicated nature of the issue by stating that the term peripheral area is “…more felt than precisely defined”. Fernandes (2000) even speaks of the obscurity of the concept of marginality, which can only be specified with difficulty. Many authors agree that marginality is a relative concept. Whether from the point-of-view tends toward a subjective perception – marginality as a state of mind (e.g. Leimgruber 2000; Leimgruber, Majoral, Lee 2003), which can additionally include relativity arising from one’s own definition of marginality/peripherality (Capella-Miternique, Font-Garolera 1999), or relativity, which focuses on specific historical developments and, consequently, longer-lasting peripherality.
In spite of the specifics listed, let’s first take a look at approaches, through which marginal/peripheral regions can be defined. Leimgruber (1994) outlines four basic approaches: geometric, ecological, economic and social. These four, in turn, can be supplemented with political and cultural approaches as well as with a concept that reflects the subjective perception of marginality/peripherality. Schmidt (1998) builds on Leimgruber and outlines six basic approaches, wherein he adds concepts of political and cultural marginality to the four basic approaches.
- The geometric approach (geometric marginality): in this case, areas that are located along the edges of a country (this concerns border areas) are considered to be marginal regions. The central factor in determining the degree of peripherality is, consequently, the distance from the centre. A relatively well-formulated definition, in this direction, comes from authors Wastl-Walter, Váradi and Veider (2003, p. 799), who claim that “border areas are peripheral regions par excellence…”. Primarily due to their distance from core areas, border regions are geographically isolated and economically marginalized. The marginality of a border region also depends, to a great degree, on the permeability of the border (Leimgruber 2004) and the nature of the border effect (Havlíček, Marada 2004). Strassoldo (1980, 1981) adds to this by stating that periphery (peripherality) is “shaped” by a border’s level of impermeability. According to Schmidt (1998), however, it is helpful to consider the relative position of a region in space, in addition to its geometric marginality, as determined by the location of the region in absolute terms. This can be expressed through the accessibility of a certain area, not only for residents, but, for example, for goods as well.
- The ecological approach (ecological marginality): this term is somewhat atypical in nature. It could be said that it is generally related to economic aspects, through the utilization of natural conditions (Schmidt 1998). From this point-of-view, the core comprises an area with good environmental conditions, which is little used by humans or entirely unused. In contrast with this, we find areas that are densely populated and considerably transformed or devastated by human activities (Chromý, Jančák 2005). Human activity literally marginalizes the natural environment and ecological marginalization can lead to a decline in quality of life (Leimgruber 2000). Central areas, in terms of this approach, are almost always peripheral in terms of other points-of-view.
- The social approach (social marginality): this approach is connected with the marginalization of social groups, “…whose socialization process has been somehow disrupted, or to individuals who are situated outside one particular group or who belong to various groups simultaneously without being fully integrated” (Leimgruber 1994, p. 11). In the spirit of this approach, Cullen and Pretes (2000) view marginality as a social structure. Power becomes the most important determinant of marginality. In this case, marginality is often represented through characteristics such as gender (e.g. Mehretu, Mutambirwa, Ch., Mutambirwa J. 2001), ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, and it often leads to the spatial segregation of minorities into slums and ghettos, primarily in an urban setting, in which so-called “micro-peripheral islands” (Blom 2000, p. 180) can be spoken of. These are areas, in which manifestations including social exclusion, criminality, illegal drug use and others are typically found.
- The economic approach (economic marginality): Along with the social approach, the economic approach is one of the most frequently used. The vast majority of instances, when we speak about marginal areas, we speak of economically marginal areas (Schmidt 1998). This approach is based on the regional differentiation of economic activities in a region (Chromý, Jančák 2005). An economic definition of marginality can arise from a number of varied elements, including natural factors and cultural and social characteristics of the residents; however, it is primarily based on economic indicators such as GDP (Leimgruber 1994). Great significance is also placed on political decisions, which can contribute significantly to the economic marginality of an area.
- The cultural approach (cultural marginality): is close to and, essentially, represents a special form of the social approach. It is associated primarily with the segregation of cultural minorities.
- The political approach (political marginality): political marginality is founded, primarily within a single country. Territories that are, for whatever reason, beyond the interest of those, who are entrusted with decision making power (e.g. national governments), which brings a series of negative consequences to these areas, can be labelled marginal (Schmidt 1998). According to Gottmann (1980), political subordination to the core (centre) is conveyed by peripheral location, as understood in the sense of the political approach.
Definitions of marginal/peripheral areas often emerge from a combination of the approaches listed above, wherein the economic and social approaches receive the greatest degree of use. Only in rare cases, is it possible to find a definition in the literature that would be founded on only one of the approaches (e.g. the geometric approach, which has significant application in terms of the peripherality of border regions).
Now, we will attempt to make something of a categorization (classification) of selected definitions of marginal/peripheral areas:
- Definitions primarily based on the economic approach: we can place the conception of authors Cullen and Pretes (1998, p. 183) among those definitions arising from the most-proliferated, economic approach. They state that “…a region is deemed marginal when it is distant from markets, dependent on primary resources, has a small and sparse population, and is not politically or economically autonomous”. Tykkyläinen (1998, p. 123) defines a marginal area as “…the frontier area of socio-economic activity, either booming or regressing, and being sparsely populated in most cases”. Marginal areas are distinguished by fluctuations in their inhabitants and are often located far from core areas, meaning economically prospering areas. Eskelin and Snickars (1995) define periphery as geographically removed and economically behind, an area that is dependent on external political decisions and is culturally “antiquated”. Artobolevsky (1997, taken from Garrod and Wilson 2004) also utilizes the economic approach in defining peripheral regions in a European context. These are characterized by a little-developed infrastructure, a low level of qualifications among the work force and high unemployment. On the other hand, peripheral areas are able to offer low cost labour, which can give them an economic advantage (Hall 1992, taken from Garrod and Wilson 2004). Marada and Chromý (1999, p. 244), who define periphery as “…a territory lying outside economically, intensively utilized regions, distinguished by their remoteness from settlement centres, poor transport accessibility and low population density” also utilize a predominantly economic approach. According to Chromý and Jančák (2005, p. 106) “classical periphery is a territory lying outside economically, intensively utilized regions, distinguished by its high portion of rural settlement, low population density, high unemployment along with a high rate of employment in primary economic activities (especially in primary agricultural production) and a generally lower level of residents’ quality of life”.
- More comprehensively focused definitions: according to Mehretu, Piggozi and Sommers (2000), marginality is a complex type of handicap, which individuals and societies are subject to (are experiencing) as a result of disadvantages that arise from uneven or unjust ethnic, cultural, social, political or economic factors. In another article (Sommers, Mehretu, Pigozzi 2001, p. 27) they add that “generally, maginal areas occur where there is a convergence of political, cultural, economic and resource problems”. Andreoli and Tellarini (1998) do not give a direct definition; instead, they list parameters, which characterize marginal areas. According to them, the incomes of residents in marginal areas are considerably lower, infrastructure is in bad shape and such areas are distinguished by a certain cultural isolation. These three factors generally work together and are moreover dependent on the nature of the natural environment, historic events that impacted the current state of the area and demographic developments. Boniface (2000) also refuses to give a direct definition; nonetheless, according to her, a number of countries are located in a marginal position, whether in terms of developmental, climatic, economic or geographic factors (i.e. in the sense of distance from main centres, where important political decisions are made, decisions concerning the distribution of financial aid and aid in the form of grants, and where wealth is accumulated). Schmidt’s (1998, p. 59) definition is one of the most frequently cited: “…marginal regions are essentially characterized by a -more or less marked- lack of integration in the present and dominant structures, processes and systems of corresponding time and spatial context, in any considered aspects, in some of them or in all them, in an additive or interactive way, generating also a -partial or total- feeling of non-belonging to the (meso- or macro-) system”.
- Definitions partially taking the social or cultural approaches into account: we can classify the above-cited work of Cullen and Pretes (1998) into this group. They define periphery “…as a power relationship between a group viewing itself as a center, and consequently viewing all minorities and nonmembers as marginal or other” (p. 184; Cullen and Pretes 2000, p. 217). For Enyedi (1994), periphery is synonymous with geographic and social distance from core areas of development. Leimgruber (2004, p. 48) cites a very interesting notion from Miller (1998), which considers the less frequent idea of cultural marginality. According to this author, marginal regions are distinguished by 1) a cult relationship to local environment, space and place; 2) a stable spectrum of awareness, which can include traditions and folklore and which arises from the relationship with environment, space and place; and 3) resources helping development and the retention of this awareness.
The issue of evaluating the polarisation of space
The issue of defining marginal/peripheral areas fits is one of the most important topics within the framework of comprehensive studies concerning marginal/peripheral areas. This is related to the authors’ attempt to find an answer to a central question – where are peripheral areas located within a researched territory? Generally, it can be said that this is very much a “non-standard” issue, confronting several methodological problems, which are naturally interconnected to a significant degree (Havlíček, Chromý, Jančák, Marada 2005).
In the first place, it is necessary to select relevant indicators, which would have sufficient declarative power, in terms of the peripherality of a given territorial unit. Practically every research project focusing on the polarisation of space offers a differing overview of indicators of peripherality. Leimgruber (2004) comes forward with a very interesting opinion, with which it is possible, to a certain extent, to agree with. He assumes that the subjective selection of indicators of peripherality influences the results of a given study in a significant way. This can, to a point, lead to the claim that “...a region is marginal because someone (the researcher, local, regional, or national politicians, the business community, etc.) wants it to be marginal” (Leimgruber 2004, p. 50). We can further document the great variety in the use of differing indicators in the specific studies of certain authors. In this sense, an article from Copus (2001), which gives a summary of indicators of peripherality that were used by a wide variety of authors at the level of European Union member states, during the 1980s and 1990s. Economic indicators such as GDP or unemployment clearly dominate this group. Gurung and Kollmair (2005), for example, compiled a summarizing table of indicators of peripherality on the basis of a “brainstorming” activity conducted among members of their research office and then extended to include indicators selected from a number of other projects. These indicators were subsequently divided thematically into eight categories (social sphere, state of infrastructure, state of health, education, politics, economy, environment, indices of development). In contrast, for delimitating marginal areas within the USA, authors Lonsdale and Archer (1999) used only demographic indicators (natural increase, rate of increase from immigration, nationality, etc.). The opinion of these authors on the issue of determining marginal/peripheral areas is also interesting: “it requires a bit of courage to draw a line on a map outlining a marginal area” (p. 138).
Another problem, closely tied to the one mentioned above, is a matter relating to methods of evaluating the polarisation of space. Again, we are faced with a wide variety of approaches, which depend on the subjective selection of a given author. If we take an in-depth look at selected research projects, which include a wide variety of methods for evaluating the polarisation of space, we find that a large “space” in Czech, as well as in foreign, literature was given in the past to multivariate statistical methods such as factor/component or cluster analysis (Andreoli 1994; Marada and Chromý 1999; Musil 1988). Of course, a series of other approaches or methods is available. One of these could even be the relatively simple use of standardisation with a sequence of values from various indicators of peripherality, selected for evaluating the polarisation of space. Subsequently, as far as how to “work” with just such a set of indicators of peripherality is concerned, it is possible to proceed in a number of ways (for more, see Nared 2002 or Pileček 2005).
The third methodological problem is, essentially, conditioned by the objective of the research in question. It concerns the scale level, at which an evaluation of the polarisation of space will be conducted (at a macro-regional, meso-regional, micro-regional, or local level). Again, we can not forget the influence of the database, from the extent of which the focus of the future research can practically be derived, especially in the sense of selecting a scale level. At the macro-regional level, it is possible to imagine marginal/peripheral areas including entire continents or sections of continents (Hampl 1996; Sokol 2001). At the meso-regional level, we generally speak of sections of countries as marginal/peripheral areas. Central units of observation monitored at this level primarily include NUTS II – NUTS IV, statistical nomenclature units of the European Union; in Czechia, districts as well as, recently, municipalities with extended jurisdiction have been used (Marada 2003; Pelc 1999). At the micro-regional level, marginal/peripheral areas can be perceived as municipalities or parts of municipalities (Jančák 2001; Moreno 2001). Moreover, we note that the position of centres and peripheries is subject to change in relation to the scale of the research, meaning the scale level (Schmidt 1998). What is considered to be periphery can, on the other hand, be a centre and vice versa (even a periphery can have its own centre).
In terms of selecting a scale level, let us take a closer look at the work of Czech authors. Since the beginning of the 1990s, natural processes have been initiated, which manifest themselves through the differentiation of space and lead to increases in the polarity between core and peripheral areas. The polarisation of space at the district level has been evaluated relatively frequently (Marada 2001; Marada and Chromý 1999). In terms of data sources, selection of this scale level manifests itself as very appropriate, enabling researchers to use a relatively large number and variety of indicators of peripherality. However, districts present territorial units that are internally strongly differentiated and heterogeneous (Hampl 2001). Significant polarisation or, rather, dichotomy “within” a district has been shown, for example, by Chromý, Jančák and Winklerová (2003), who examined long-term changes in land-use in the Prachatice District. Differences arise not only from differing physical-geographic conditions of the various parts of a district (mountainous versus sub-mountainous territories), but also from the unique development of the territories (resettled territories versus areas of continuous settlement). For this reason, it is not possible to remain at the district level and it is necessary to take evaluations to a lower scale level (Jančák 2001). From this vantage point, articles from the end of the 1980s presented an interesting approach (Musil 1988; Illner 1988). These authors used so-called generel units for their evaluations (in essence, these were the service areas of central municipalities; in 1980, there were 916 such units; Musil 2002). At present, when working with lower territorial units (municipalities), we are faced with insufficient data sources, which do not allow a researcher to conduct evaluations similar to those done at the district level. The recently established municipalities with extended jurisdiction and, likely, even the territories of voluntary associations of municipalities and micro-regions, could be appropriate units for further study. A problem, in the sense of insufficient data sources or regarding the operability of the association of municipalities in question, emerges once again with these units (Pileček 2005).
It is clear from the above information that a number of differing theoretical concepts and approaches exist for studying peripheral areas. From a terminological perspective, it was not necessary to distinguish between marginality and peripherality for the purposes of this article. Rather, the objective was to discuss the conceptions of selected authors. Nonetheless, it is our opinion that it is possible to place a forward slash between these terms and perceive them as synonyms. However, from a terminological point-of-view, we tend to prefer the terms periphery, peripherality or peripheral area.
The overview of definitions of peripherality resulted in a large variety of opinions. In spite of this, the definitions included have certain elements in common. First and foremost, the economic point-of-view clearly dominates. Peripheries are often perceived as territories that are little-developed economically and that are located outside of developed regions. They are areas, which are not economically autonomous, but which are dependent on the most-advanced regions. Additional frequently mentioned elements of periphery include actual remoteness (distance) from centres of settlement, not only in a purely geographic sense (transport accessibility – the impact of natural barriers, insufficiently developed transport infrastructure), but also in a social sense (social exclusion, etc.). The opportunity to participate in political decision-making processes, which peripheries often do not have or have in a very limited form, also plays an important role. A series of diverse demographic and socioeconomic characteristics manifest themselves relatively frequently. These often include, for instance, low population density, declining population, high unemployment rate, low levels of education, etc. Irregularly, here and there we are confronted with less traditional elements or aspects of a socio-cultural nature, such as ethnicity, religion or even regional identity, which can play an important role in certain circumstances. However, such aspects are very difficult to pinpoint and quantify.
In our opinion, it is not possible to understand the term periphery only in the context of the various, individual approaches, on the basis of which peripheral areas can be defined. Periphery is a specific territory, distinguished by a complex package of negative characteristics (including spatial, demographic, socioeconomic, political along with physical-geographic and cultural characteristics). It refers to a territory lacking in integration, in a given place and time, into dominating structures, processes and systems (Schmidt 1998).
The discussion of methodological problems in evaluating the polarisation of space has shown that using a homogenous set of indicators of peripherality in delimiting peripheral areas is rather uncommon. In terms of statistical evaluations, a combination of a wide variety of “types” of indicators is predominantly used. Here again, we are confronted with the above-mentioned problem of relativity of the term peripherality and the subjective perceptions of its meaning.
HUMAN AND SOCIAL CAPITAL
The research of the role of human and social capital in the development and integration of peripheral regions into regional structures of Czechia and the EU relates to the former broad research of space polarisation and borderlands carried out by the research team in the years 1998-2005 (three projects backed by the Grant Agency of Czech Republic). Theoretical and methodological approaches to the research of space polarisation and delimitation of problematic (peripheral) regions on different hierarchical levels in the territory of Czechia have been evaluated. In their frame intense research has been carried out in nearly two tens of model areas. The results of the research are summarised in a monograph (Jeřábek, Dokoupil, Havlíček et al 2004) and in a prepared monograph with working title Quo vadis, periphery? (Prague 2005). The necessity to concentrate research activities to the role of human and social capital, which is a significant part of a mechanism of space polarisation and determines pivotally possibilities of further development of peripheral regions, arises from the previous researches.
Since the end of the Word War II, exponents of neoclassical theories in economical or social sciences have advocated that the quality of human capital bound to a higher education is a substantial element of living standard increase (Becker 1964). This thought helped to increase investments into educational systems, which promoted human potential and economical growth (Preston, Dyer 2003). Human capital includes especially education, skills, training and experience of individuals or of a certain community, which are used or can be used at the labour market. The theory of human capital argues that there exist direct links between the human capital of workers and the productivity of labour and also between the productivity and earnings (Becker 1971). At a labour market, actors with a higher human capital, that is with a higher education, higher skills and more experience, are more productive and have higher salaries than those with a lower human capital. Accumulation of human capital is thus a very significant determinant of salaries and therefore of a higher living standard. However, the theory of human capital cannot be applied in this pure form, because other factors intervene into this process (unemployment, discrimination, housing problems, etc.), which brings other problems on labour market.
In literature we can identify different opinions on human and social capital (Field, Schuller, Baron 2000). A part of human capital is above all the individual factor of qualification, productivity, skills and flexibility, while social capital is more oriented at mutual relations, cooperation, social cohesion, confidence, interactivity (Schuller 2000).
In geographical sciences, the phenomenon of human potential is dealt with by theoretical conceptions of regional development. The role of human or social capital is analysed more in detail by the theoretical concepts “new economical geographies” (Krugman 1991, Martin 1999) and by the theories of endogenous growth (for instance Romer 1986). Production function is modified to growing yields from the extent and enlarged by the index of human capital (Blažek, Uhlíř 2002), which is then considered as an important part of the total capital in the territory. Models of the “new economical geographies“ stress, in accordance with neo-conservative approaches, the significance of initiative of individuals that is subjective factors, for the development of regions. On the contrary, they refuse deterministic (for instance structuralist) approaches (Blažek 1999). In this sense, also theories of regional geography of institutional directions can be taken in consideration for the research. Prosperity of a territory is above all the result of good social, cultural and institutional structures with an adaptable and innovative human capital. The public sector should then back all efforts to increase the quality of living conditions in the given territory in all possible aspects. Among these institutional activities, we can include also larger possibilities of integration of the greatest possible part of society into the educational process and decision-making in public affairs and therefore also into increasing of the of the local social capital (Putnam 1993).
Social capital must be looked on as collective resource, not as human individual resource, in spite of the fact that it is oriented especially at rational actors. The theory of social capital should be in a special context applied to specific actors in the territory (Pisseli 1999). Social capital is thus conceived as a dynamical element and not only as a general positive standpoint to cooperation and confidence. Social capital is thus conceived as a certain structure regulating individual behaviour in networks. On the other hand, social capital is being further formed and modified by these structures (Giddens 1984). The research into networks and their relations cannot be confused with a mere analysis of networks typical for structuralism. The proper analysis becomes relevant only after taking into account the creativity of actors in implementation of a specific project (Pisseli 1999).
The above-mentioned makes it clear that human and social capital is one of the key factors determining the process of space polarization, respectively the existence of problematic regions. The research into the phenomenon of periphery is based mainly on the relation of core and its background. The model of polarity of centre and periphery has nevertheless number of specific forms, both from the viewpoint of development and order or scale. Generally however, it always expresses their asymmetric relation. At the beginning, peripheries were described at the level of macrostructures, while the main aspects used for their delimitation, were primarily of physical-geographical type, although transformed into anthropo-geographical and political-geographical consequences. A shift in perception of peripheral territories into lower scale territorial orders (nodal regions) occurs only at the beginning of the 20th century within the research into the development of settlement system, formation of links between settlements and their hierarchization. Korčák (1973) indicates that the key role was there played by works by Mackinder and Vidal de la Blache. Christaller (1933) then, when formulating the theory of central places, delimited implicitly cores and peripheries. It was nevertheless mainly a simplification of space concentration of territorial organization and not evolution principles and processes conditioning its asymmetry. Dynamically conceived theories of regional development appear only after the World War II. The effort to solve regional disparities was made at first by economists (Myrdal 1957, Hirschman 1959). Wirth (1963) used for delimitation of differences between the north and the south of Europe not only physical-geographical parameters, but also historical and political ones. Besides that, he mentions also the so-called internal periphery. An example is for instance Myrdal´s or Hirschman´s theory of cumulative causes (theory core-periphery) where the authors differentiate the predominating negative so-called “polarization” or “back-wash” effects of the impact of more developed regions on the less developed ones, but they describe also positive effects („spread“ or „trickle-down“ effects); for more details see Blažek, Uhlíř (2002).
Leimgruber (2001) considers the polarization theory core-periphery showing increasing differences between the rich and the poor as a better model for understanding the present state in the world than theoretical conceptions of neoclassicism expecting a progressive compensation of differences between social and space aspects through market mechanisms. He gives the key importance to human decisions based on subjective interests and values (Leimgruber 1998).
With the growing importance of gathering and sorting information, the degree of activity of subjects/actors in the territory is thus decisive. The periphery is therefore determined by the ability and velocity to accept new information and innovations. Besides that, the dichotomic concepts core and periphery are often anchored in mind and ideas of the involved subjects (Heintel 1998). The role of distance/position factors (horizontal element) is thus getting weaker and, on the contrary, the significance of the hierarchy of political, social, economical and cultural organization of geographical activities (vertical element) is growing. Besides that, concentration processes within globalisation form only one of the possible development tendencies. Opposite to propagation and homogenisation of thinking and activities of the western world, there is polarization (centre-periphery) or multipolarization (for instance. Huntington 1997) of the space which gives more importance to differentiation in the globalization process (Dostál, Hampl 2000).
Within the large spectrum of complicated political, economical, social and ecological relations, there occurs, in the evolutional sense, an increasing, stagnating, decreasing and/or levelling polarization of the space to core and periphery (Havlíček, Chromý 2001).
Theories core-periphery conceive only a simplified dichotomy core and periphery, although there is often in this sense a continuum according to the degree of autonomy and innovations. These theories represent also core regions as winners and peripheries as defeated, which worsens the possibilities of a mutually advantageous cooperation based on comparative advantages (Blažek, Uhlíř 2002).
The European continent belongs to the most dynamic political-geographical and social-geographical macro-regions of the world. Thanks to the fall of the iron curtain and to the enlargement of the European Union, Europe has new possibilities of a further regional development (Pinder 1998). The notion of “new Europe” appears thus in the geographical research of regional development and of effective reintegration of Europe which was divided for a long time. An important part of model territories is played in this sense also by problematic regions within the countries integrating into the European structures, in addition specifically influenced by post-communist transformation processes.
EDUCATION TOWARDS OBTAINING VARIOUS FORMS OF CAPITAL
The aim of this article is to discuss which should be the role of education for functioning and development of the modern society. The importance of the process and of the product of education used to be stressed nearly at any time and in any culture, although the concept of these notions has been changing in time, or is changing according to cultures, and each time and each culture prefer mastering of different knowledge, skills and attitudes, in dependence on how the image of the persons considered as cultivated is changing according to shared values and in dependence on the significance given to education (see e.g. Byčkovský, Kotásek 2004; Skalková 2007).
Also at present our culture attaches a great importance to education. The society has nevertheless already for several decades criticized many education systems, including the Czech one, for “education for education”, for its formalism, lack of practicality, its preferring knowledge to skills and for its insufficient encompassing of certain positively accepted habits (for more details see e.g. Singule 1992). In addition, the need of education reform is gaining another dimension in connection with the new EU curricular policy, which is a part of the whole system of measures in view to enhance social development and economic efficiency of the Union adopted in March 2000 in Lisbon as the so-called Lisbon strategy. Implementation of this development concept is at present the principal priority of the European Union. Education systems of all member states should provide education in line with the aims and needs of the European Community, i.e. to increase the quality of human and social capital, and by that also the competitive advantage of the European Union in the field of global economy, and at the same time to train up to responsibility for the consequences of the behaviour of the society and of the individual within their environment. In this text, we shall try to show possible correlations between education and different types of capital. A deeper attention will be paid to a relatively new and in this context less discussed concept of social capital.
Education as an investment into human capital
Education is in general considered as a process, in which an individual learns the experience of the others. The process of learning is a lifelong process that is not limited to official institutions traditionally connected with education. Already since their childhood individuals learn in all situations and when they imitate activities, often quite common, they see around themselves and which they need to imitate. But not all the aspects of the process of learning can be directly influenced, controlled and monitored.
School is one of the institutions created by the society to ensure its educational needs (Dvořák 2002). In many historical periods, in some social groups or in a certain cultural environment school does not play such an important role as, for instance, in the present western culture. For instance professional training is in many cases ensured by persons directly exercising the given profession, without pedagogical education (e.g. by a foreman mastering his craft, by a hunter) and not through an official institution.
In microeconomics, the term investments into human capital is used in connection with the costs of education and professional training. According to Sojka, Konečný (2001: 154), human capital brings “income under the form of above-average wages or salaries proportional to its quality and economic activity. Investments into human capital are a sort of capital accumulation manifesting by a higher productivity of labour, innovations or a higher quality of labour and bringing an above-average income”. In other words, an individual, through a system of institutions authorized and accredited to provide educational services, obtains the appropriate qualification, i.e. educational or human capital which should consequently help him/her to get a corresponding social position and capital, both economic (real or financial) and political (i.e. wealth and power). Therefore a higher education of members of a society, which should directly ensure the growth of economic capital of individuals and of the whole economy (see below), is considered as one of the important measures for development of the society (especially in economically stronger developed countries).
But the jugement on the role of education system and school in modern society is not always so positive. In sociological thinking, there can be distinguished two basic, mutually contradictory views of the given issue, i.e. the functionalist and the critical (conflict) one (for more details see e.g. Dvořák 2002). According to functionalists, school is an institution increasing the equality of chances and mainly public education gives to young people the chance to get education and consequently such position in the society which corresponds to their abilities and efforts. Public education has to offer to each member of the society knowledge and skills which are important for life in the given society and which he/she can valorize for his/her own benefit, whereas the sum of the successes of individuals is the success of the whole society. On the opposite side, supporters of critical theories based on philosophical ideological orientation called structuralism affirm that school does not give equal changes but, on the contrary, safeguards the differences existing in the society. All learners bring from the environment they live in the so-called cultural capital (habits, knowledge, skills, values and attitudes) (see also Bourdieu 1997). Members of disadvantaged social groups, the cultural capital of which is lower from the perspective of ruling groups, cannot compete with their schoolfellows, which have got the necessary cultural capital and now are valorizing it, i.e. they get also a higher education capital. In such (unjust) social system school does not offer findings and skills profitable to the society as a whole. “Knowledge and culture transmitted at school as “universal” or “national” are in fact a system of such meanings, symbols and views on the world which are those of the dominating group in the society“ (Prokop 2005: 14). Members of other groups are then convinced by the system, that their failure and second-rate position are due to their failure at school (Dvořák 2002).
Both above-mentioned ideological streams stress certain system characters and they must be approached as limit values, i.e. the opposite poles of the same reality. To begin with it is not always true, as critical theories affirm, that a member of a social minority could not compete with the majority population, that he could not achieve a higher evaluation, because also various learner’s personal characteristics and predispositions play their role. Ideas of functionalism offering to individuals the opportunity to reach by their own efforts a better social position appear for instance in assistance projects for developing countries and problem areas, which stress investments to education as the major condition for starting economic growth of regions, i.e. for obtaining economic or political capital (see Woolcock, Narayan 2000; www.clovekvtisni.cz, etc.). We do not further consider as well-founded the structural evaluation of symbols and of the systems of values of the dominating social groups a priori as predatory, unjust and unsuitable. For instance the so-called post-materialist value orientation of the society prevailing in some European countries and stressing, differently from the traditional materialist values (economic capital, social security), above all the quality of life (care for environment, interhuman solidarity, respect of human rights, autonomy of self-government, etc.) strives more for mutual cooperation of different social groups and territorial communities than for unilaterally advantageous exploitation of certain group/groups by another/others (for more details see Dostál 2002; 2005).
Points of difference are found also in the functionalist perspective. For instance when considering investments into human capital we hint at the problem of the impossibility to ensure the basic condition, i.e. absolutely equal opportunities. Equality of initial conditions and of a just competition of individuals or regions cannot be guaranteed, if there does not exist public education common to all people on the Earth enabling to all of them to acquire knowledge and skills of the same quality. A really very inegalitarian is the functionalist affirmation that “public education should at the same time form citizens able of responsible decision-making and qualified workers, so that the country as a whole could keep going according to democratic rules and be able to stand the sharp competition existing in the present global economy” (Dvořák 2002: 150). Here is predetermined the success and “victory” not of one social class over another, but of one territorial community over another, because an unequal competition will exist there where schools will not form this “type” of workers. Perfect initial conditions do not exist even within one centrally controlled education system of a given territorial unit (e.g. country). In education, perhaps more than anywhere else, very important are such factors as personal conditions, i.e. the personality of the teacher and his/her conception of teaching, managing capacities of the director of this educational institution which influence the character of educational process. There then fully manifest the by structuralist rightly criticized inherited cultural conditionalities, economic specialization of regions and the derived requirements for the average level of education and qualification of the population, i.e. for their human capital (e.g. Massey 1984; Hampl et al. 2001).
Finally even the notion of human capital as a driving force of regional development is not entirely valid. This idea was brought in the 1960s by some neoclassic economists arguing that the society’s endowment of educated, trained and healthy workers determined how productively the other potential developing factors could be utilized (Woolcock 2001). Until then neoclassic models of economic growth stressed quantity of labour (though skilled) on the detriment of quality, which corresponded to the production process in dominating economic branches of that time. In addition, the volume of production depended on the sufficient quantity of land, financial capital and also technology (physical capital). In relation to regional education systems, the model of economic growth presented by neoclassic economists can be nevertheless considered as unjust. If migration of labour represents a mechanism for levelling economic differences among regions, the question is what will happen if educated individuals with their investment in human capital leave the region in which investments into human capital have been made. Education of qualified individuals in itself must not necessarily outline the future economic development of the region. Human capital measured by the highest obtained level of education is then only a personal characteristic of the given individual irrespective of space relations. This problem is stressed mainly in connection with the brain drain phenomenon, i.e. departure of educated individuals out of the region, which is typical for economically feeble and structurally affected regions, for which increasing of qualification of population should paradoxally bring the desirable economic development (see e.g. Drbohlav, Uherek 2007).
It ensues from the above-mentioned that, when evaluating the role of education as investment and a certain form of capital accumulation which can be further valorized, it depends much on larger conditionalities of the environment, in which the investment is made. We must differentiate whether it is an economically and politically strong region with diversified resources and forms of capital, where economic development and increase of the standard of living represent a qualitatively different process than in a region affected by a real shortage and incapacity to satisfy basic needs of its inhabitants. This further influences the way the society thinks of the process of education and what it expects from educational institutions.
The concept of social capital
Education process is perceived, in relation to the society, mostly as acquisition of knowledge and skills relevant for living in the contemporary society (school adapting) or in the future one (school anticipating), for holding social roles, for performing job. However, these “knowledge and skills relevant for living in society” are changing during the time and vary among cultures. Already since the beginning of the modern pedagogy the specialists have been solving the basic conception problem: the level of cognition is so high and the volume of findings so large that it is not possible for an individual to acquire during his/her life all existing skills and knowledge of humanity. The development of science and technique during the 19th century continuing in the 20th century by a rapid development of technologies (see Kopačka 2004) has brought a real boom of findings, discoveries and inventions. The social distribution of labour has been thus more and more deepening and orientation of specialists at a given activity must be narrower and narrower for them to be able to take in the knowledge and skills necessary for performing their activities. For mastering other activities it is necessary for different specialists to communicate and exchange opinions how to solve the same problem (going from construction of a house to solving of an environmental crisis), how to ensure a rapid access to information and findings of the others. Beside “what you know”, “to find (correctly) what you want to know” is important as well.
At last “who you know”, it means who yours collaborators are, is today’s crucial aphorism (Woolcock, Narayan 2000) that sums up the concept of another form of capital, i.e. social capital. Although acquaintances and contacts (mainly with economically and politically powerful persons) have been important during the whole history of humanity, the concept of social capital does not stress the unilateral importance of an acquaintance for obtaining certain advantages for an individual (e.g. through allowances from obligations or through a preferential right to certain economic goods), but the existence of reciprocal social network through which it is possible to reach more effective outputs. Because the output is more rewarding when suppliers, colleagues and clients alike are able to combine their particular skills and resources in a spirit of co-operation and commitment to common objectives (Woolcock 2001).
The concept of social capital was originated in sociology and is being widely incorporated into much current social science. Ideas of improvement of living conditions for whole community via efficient social networks and community participation appeared in sociological papers already at the beginning of the 20th century (e.g. Hanifan 1916, quoted in Woolcock, Narayan 2000). But only the description of problems by terms used by economists in the second half of the 20th century (issues how people capitalise on their social relationships to obtain access to economic and other desired resources) and publishing of fundamental works by Bourdieu (1977, reprinted 2000; 1980, quoted in Astone et al. 1999) and Coleman (1988) is considered as the beginning of an intensive research in this field. However, a person who has popularized the concept most of all is Putnam (1993, quoted in Woolcock, Narayan 2000; compare Putnam 2001), whose work stimulated further research activities (e.g. Hall 1999).
While the concept of social capital is relatively new, its using suffers from fuzziness and inconsistency. Some authors consider social capital only as one sort of capital and assign it qualities of the capital described in economics. According to Samuelson (1976, quoted in Astone et al. 1999: 3) the “capital is an input to economic production, which is distinguished from other inputs (e.g. land or labour) by the fact that a capital input is itself an output of a prior productive process”. Like Samuelson (1976), Bourdieu (1977, reprinted 2000) defines capital as a resource, which is both produced and potentially productive, unlike Samuelson, he explicitly incorporates into his definition the Marxist idea that the raw material that produces a capital resource is always, at its ultimate origin, human labour (Astone et al. 1999, compare Bourdieu 1977, reprinted 2000). Nevertheless the essence of the Bourdieu´s tract on social capital does not consist in reflections how to express social networks and social cohesion through the form of economic capital, how to convert their value to measurable variables used in economics, i.e. mainly to finances. Just on the contrary, Bourdieu during his sociological research into the North-Africa desert tribe of Kabyls found a society, where the significance of economic capital was replaced by quite different values – the basic economic transaction there is gift and from this transaction is derived the entire functioning of this society based on an extremely complicated network of reciprocal social relations (Bourdieu 2000; Možný 1999). Bourdieu could therefore come to the conclusion that different types of capital are, to a large degree, interchangeable and transformable, because thinking in the intentions of purely economic capital is lacking in the Kabyl society. Research conclusions cannot be thus transferred, for instance, into the context of the present western culture, although it frequently happens.
Other authors, leaving out of consideration economic definitions of capital, understand the term of social capital very broadly with consequences to which social network and collective action lead to, as trust, altruism, social cohesion, regional consciousness, etc. This conception of social capital is contradictory to general economic principles of capital, as “economists distinguish the acquisition of capital resources from the acquisition of other things; the former is referred to as investment, the latter as consumption” (Astone et al. 1999: 5).
A relatively concise and complex definition of social capital is given e.g. by Hall (1999: 418): “...the social networks generated by (...) patterns of sociability constitute an important form of ‘social capital’ in the sense that they increase the trust that individuals feel towards others and enhance their capacity to join together in collective action to resolve common problems or to ensure that governments address such problems”. Woolcock, Narayan (2000: 226) prefer a more general definition which mostly focuses on the sources of social capital: “(It) refers to the norms and networks that enable people to act collectively”. A comprehensive outline of further definitions of social capital is given in the Czech literature e.g. by Ptáček (2001), the up-to-now most extensive summary of various aspects of the given problems is the paper by Šafr, Sedláčková (2006).
Education as an investment in social capital
However, in some areas of social science this concept has not been adopted yet, which is true for many countries (including Czechia) for sciences about education. Although there is a very strong association (and also statistical correlation) between higher education and measures of social capital, suggesting public investment in education may be one level that governments might use to strengthen social capital (Hall 1999; Putnam 2001), the term “an investment in social capital“ is not yet currently used. An important obstacle to this investment is probably the rather “vague” ownership of social capital, when many specialists assume that differently from human capital, social capital is a property of groups rather than the property of individuals (Schuller 2001). In the traditional conception of teaching, it is then problematic to control and especially to evaluate mastering of social capital, if it is bound to individuals, as it takes its significance only when connected to a larger group. Inspiring in this sense are such forms of teaching as cooperative education (for more details see Kasíková 2007), introduced into practice in educationally developed countries (the term used for example by Obst 2002, p. 106).
According to Kasíková (2007), education can be in principle organized, from the perspective of social relations, in three ways: competitive, individual and cooperative. Although the proportion of time allocated to these ways of education should be theoretically 20 % : 20 % : 60 %, for instance in Czech schools cooperation is at present rather rare, in the past it was largely underestimated, so that competition is clearly dominating. In the competitive way of education, activities of pupils are in negative correlation in relation to the aim, i.e. success of one is necessarily connected with failure of another; it is not an activity done together, but by one against another. On the contrary, the principle of cooperative education is cooperation in reaching aims; results of an individual are backed by the activity of the whole group of pupils and the whole group benefits from the activity of an individual. Here we have a positive correlation, when the whole group is appreciated for the results of the work.
In relation to the capital, the competitive way of education can lead above all to a certain level of human capital for individuals, while cooperation can, beside human capital for the individual, effectively gain the social capital as well. Then it is not necessary to distinguish whether the property belongs to a group or to an individual, as without groups and each individual it could not be gained. It depends more how other consequences of the gains are evaluated, whether we choose to focus on the personal network (ego-centred network) or rather a whole network approach (to study an entire bounded population) (Mailfert 2007). Since the social capital can be linked to economic performance (productivity) at very different levels – at the level of nation states, at the regional level or between and within communities or organizations and also be measured as a profit for an individual who joins with such community.
In the contemporary world characterized by a high cohesion, interconnections and more frequent interactions among different people and groups, school should put a stress on learning communication and teamwork skills, tolerance and compromise, etc., at least to the same degree as to acquiring fundamental professional findings and experience. For Schuller (2001), communication and teamwork skills are two of the most universally acknowledged competences for a modern economy. These can be interpreted at a basic practical level, where productive efficiency requires good communication among work group members. But the same message applies at other levels, where a professional community depends for its success on trust and openness of information sharing. Although these skills are appreciated mainly in institutional economics (differently from Keynesianism or Marxism and Neo-Marxism), the present regional policy in economically developed countries stresses them the most frequently and builds on them prospective measures for regional development – support of the so-called local incentives, support for generation and diffusion of innovations, etc. (for more details see Blažek, Uhlíř 2002).
But through education it is possible to develop also another dimension of social capital which can (not necessarily) consequently influence economic growth of the region and which is in fact a source and a product of social capital: social cohesion. In a certain perspective, activities of school in this field are indispensable. Much of what used to be provided in the western society, still some one or two hundred years ago, exclusively by the family or by a closed community, is today wanted from schools to train. This is true not only for manual skills, knowledge of regional history and formation of regional/local consciousness, the family in today’s western culture often does not even perform its basic emotional, educational and socialization function (Sullerotová 1998; Maříková ed. 2000; and others). The first place where a child starts with his/her socialization and where he/she becomes fully conscious of his/her identity, can be now school (Tonucci, 1994). It would be thus desirable that school met requirements necessary for formation of social capital from the perspective of functions of voluntary associations (Hall 1999, s. 420): “First, they should involve their members in at least some face-to-face interaction with others, a factor of importance since it is from such interaction that the capacity for generalized reciprocity is said to follow. Secondly, they should engage their members in common endeavour, thereby nurturing capacities for collective action rather than simply self-help.” These are again arguments for a progressively increasing inclusion of cooperation into education.
Schools, especially the basic, general ones, have also the potential to develop specific type of social cohesion, i.e. regional social cohesion, also regional consciousness or regional identity of the inhabitants (for more details see Paasi 1986; compare Chromý 2003). The significance of regional consciousness for functioning of a society and for regional development is now often in the centre of attention in connection with new approaches in regional geography, the so-called new regional geography, or with institutional orientations in economics and regional policy as well as with the interest in problems of identities in social sciences in general (see e.g. Paasi 1986, 2002; Maskell, Malmberg 1999; Raagmaa 2002; in Czechia e.g. Chromý, Janů 2003; Kučera, Kuldová 2005; Jeřábek 2007; Klusáková, Ellis eds. 2006; Zich ed. 2003, etc.). Research shows that identity of inhabitants for sustainable economic growth or social and cultural development of the region is not sufficient, nevertheless in combination with the competitive strength in innovations, different forms of learning (see Lundvall, Johnson 1994), i.e. in human capital, and with the existing networks, i.e. social capital, there appears in the region a significant cumulative effect of positive development aspects. Conscious inhabitants of a region then can, when building further contacts, personal, economic or politic, act in behalf of the region and as a part of the community, which may bring material and immaterial profits thanks to formation of a positive image of the region (so-called identity of the region by Paasi 1986). It is necessary to get aware of the fact, often neglected in regional development strategies, that only links without one’s own community bring new impulsions and become opportunities for regional development, in whatever sense we understand it, as an enlargement of sales or as cultural enrichment (when conceived both positive or negative).
In this connection we must stress that there is no single form of social capital, but this issue has a multiple dimension. The most common and popular distinction is between ‘bonding’, ‘bridging’ and ‘linking’ social capital (Woolcock, Narayan 2000; compare Šafr, Sedláčková 2006; Das 2003; Mailfert 2007). Bonding social capital refers to the relations within homogeneous groups, sharing often similar demographic characteristics, such as families, close friends, ethnic enclaves or neighbours. The ties connecting the members are strong and provide important emotional and also material benefits. The primary function of these networks is to reduce risk and uncertainty (so called solidarity networks). Bridging social capital connects in horizontal way different types of people and groups as more distant friends, associates and colleagues. The people have comparable social and economic status or political power, but different demographic, ethnic and geographical backgrounds. These ties are open and flexible and they are typical of business and others formal relations. The purpose of such innovation networks is to share knowledge about technology, know-how, to enhance productivity and profit. Linking social capital is similar to bridging, but connects individuals and groups vertically to others in so called higher economically, socially or politically more powerful positions. It is often stressed that social capital should be reciprocal (see footnote 4), i.e. mutual benefit for both connected parties; therefore it is necessary to distinguish linking social capital from the mere unilateral abusing of acquaintances for one’s own enrichment. It can be understood as correlation core – periphery or controlling – controlled, when also periphery (subordinated surroundings) is important for its core, it offers it certain advantages and at the same time is not only exploited by the core (Havlíček, Chromý, Jančák, Marada 2005). Nevertheless other theoretical concepts of social capital contest such intergroup reciprocity. For instance, the in the Marxist way conceived Bourdieu´s (1980) social capital is only another of capitals exclusively owned by the dominant social class, i.e. instrument for reproduction of this class on the detriment of the others (Field 2003; compare Šafr, Sedláčková 2006). Reciprocity of relations is for Bourdieu a basis for functioning of social capital, but only within one social rank.
Although all the three above-mentioned dimensions of social capital are important for a sound functioning of a society, primary for the very moment of starting the prosperity of a region are bridging or linking relations. World Bank’s evidence from the developing world (see more Woolcock, Narayan 2000) demonstrates that merely having high levels of social solidarity or informal groups does not necessarily lead to economic prosperity. Intensive bonding social capital can leverage poor community to get by (that is defensive strategy), but only more extensive bridging or linking social capital enables it to get ahead (offensive strategy). By their linking to a hierarchically higher network of relations, an individual, a community or a region find new resources and new impulsions, although, at the same time they are exposed to the menace of a stronger competition. In spite of that, as stressed e.g. by Hampl (1998), it is important to remain a part of the system, would it be on a feeble and disadvantageous position, and thus avoid isolation.
Affirmations about the impossibility to reach economic prosperity with the help of the comparative advantage of another type of capital seem at the first sight to be in contradiction with the above ideas of economists and sociologists developing Bourdieu´s statement that different types of capitals are to a large degree interchangeable and transformable. But we have already mentioned that Bourdieu when distinguishing three types of capital – economic, cultural and social – considered rather general issues of functioning of a society and different types of the system of values than the direct creating of economic capital. Moreover, his conception of social capital is dominantly aimed at the position of an individual in social structures and on his more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition, representing for the given individual actual or potential resources. Also for Coleman (1988) community ties were important for the benefits they yielded to individuals. The “celebration” of a community and regional identity in connection with the concept of social capital began to appear in amplification of the above mentioned ideas only in papers of scholars in many other disciplines, where social capital became an attribute of the community itself. This inaccuracy has its origin in substitution of one of the possible attributes of the community for its indispensable part. Silk (1999: 8) states: “Community suggests any or all of the following: common needs and goals, a sense of the common good, shared lives, culture and views of the world, and collective action”. Collective action is at the same time considered as a product of social capital (see above Hall 1999; Woolcock, Narayan 2000). Another problem is, that “community” is a social and not spatial/geographical category which is primarily integrated by interpersonal links, so that it can, but must not, have its territorial base. Geographical conceptualization of social networks and social capital was done e.g. by Holt (2008); Lin (2001, 2008), in Czechia by Matoušek, Sýkora (2008); Jančák, Havlíček, Chromý, Marada (2008). If they are not (in this sense) geographical and territorially anchored categories, thus social capital, social networks, communities and regional consciousness must not territorially coincide in the given space and therefore there must not exist spatial relations between their intensities and their growth must not condition the overall economic development of a given region.
Such situation is shown by the concise diagram by Woolcock, Narayan (2000). The model is based on the results of Grameen Bank’s group-based credit program in Bangladesh. It describes an event when a group of poor village women was given a loan, which helped them start a small shared business. This improved their families´ welfare (A), but in the course of time the economic returns reached a limit (B). Then the group continued to expand through the arrival of others members of village community and its resources became overwhelmed and founder members´ well-being was thereby reducing (C). In these circumstances the poor women divested themselves of their immediate community ties (D) and found a potentially more diverse network out of the community which gave them another chance (E). The migration from villages to cities is the most dramatic example of solving such situation of poor people.
The above example describes the event from the perspective of the personal network of the poor women and does not say anything about consequent benefits and losses in communities which have lost or on the contrary have gained new members, in case of migration then on regions of arrival of departure of migrants. It can be said that the point D generally appears as disadvantageous from the perspective of both personal network (micro) and whole network (macro) approach, although it is exactly the point of transition of bonding social capital to bridging one. In case that such radical severing of existing links has not occurred and an individual has transformed these relations into regional consciousness, into his/her regional identity, he/she could at the same time increase the welfare of his/her home region and the diversity of his/her social networks could be still higher. Under other circumstances, the point C could be left out and the point E would be only another non-conflicting continuation of personal network developing (see e.g. the working class’s and the middle class’s different strategies of networking after their moving to a large urban area described by Hall (1999).
It does not clearly ensue from the above-mentioned facts whether investment into social capital is beneficial for the economic prosperity of the region, or for the local community, of even for the society as a whole. Differently from the concept of human capital, which suggests a direct linear model: investment is made, in time or money, and economic returns follow, social capital has a much less linear approach, its returns are less easily definable and it is harder to specify what kinds of return might be expected, and by when (Schuller 2001). Moreover, the benefits from this investment are often available only to those inside the networks, not to the local/regional society as a whole. In spite of that education should represent an investment in different forms of social capital both in making bonds to regional community, formation of regional identity and learning to making contacts, networking, since such complexity of benefits and returns is closer to the real world in comparison to an ideal linear model of human capital.
The aim of this text is to evaluate the process of education as an instrument enabling an individual to acquire certain competencies (a kind of capital), which, when used in an active way, may help him/her to reach different personal benefits, or even benefits for the whole society in a given territory. Human capital, i.e. acquired knowledge and skills, is traditionally considered as an important factor of societal and regional development and therefore the main measures taken are usually investments into education strengthening these cognitive domains.
An increasing role is however played by realization of the importance of social networks, integration of subjects in these networks for obtaining a large spectrum of further benefits. The potential of using the systems of relations for reaching a certain objective, or sometimes the product itself of a collective action in a network, has been recently called social capital. Its ownership or sharing is not implicit, although each human is integrated in some, at least minimal, network of interpersonal relations. The amount of social capital for an individual and for the whole network depends on many characteristics of the social network: on its size (absolute number of its members), density, structural characteristics (social position, education, age, profession, etc. of participating individuals), intimacy, trust and reciprocity of relations. But also on qualities of the environment, in which the given network operates, on redistribution of benefits within the network, on other external links of the network. Therefore a needful part of education should be to teach people skills helping them to integrate themselves into such networks, to form and use them, but not to their unilateral clientelistic profit. At the time we are getting aware of the positive signification of cooperation and division of labour among the parts of a whole for reaching a common goal, it is useful for people to acquire also attitudes and values necessary for a sound functioning of the network: responsibility for his/her actions, the principle of reciprocity of relations, cooperation, which means activities together and not against one another, where all must at the same time be aware of the risk that the group must share not only success, but also failure.
The problem is that in spite of the fact that the modern conception and project curricular documents (e.g. documents based on the EU Treaty of Lisbon) stress the principles of cooperation, cohesion, equal opportunity and solidarity, the process of education and the system of education in western democratic societies is in principle competitive. “Democratization of education opportunities has depended on the individuation of success and failure. (...) In educational systems based on choice and competition, resources follow students on the assumption that students will be attracted to the most successful institutions. Less successful institutions as indicated by league tables will suffer a decline in student numbers while the more successful will attract an increase, and funding will be regulated accordingly” (Brown, Halsey, Lauder, Wells 1997: 10–11).
As education systems are national, we can state that democratization of educational opportunities practicized in this way and investments into education strengthening human and social capital for economic development of regions are important and are understood as such only at international level as strengthening of the competitive strength of states of regional groupements (e.g. the European Union) on the global market. A problem appears when education is used as an instrument of regional development within one state, within one education system. Although the intention may be to help the disadvantaged (economically, socially, culturally, etc.), the curriculum operates primarily in the whole area and also the education reform will have an impact on all regions, i.e. on the “feeble” as well as on the “strong” ones. We can thus presume that the reform of curriculum carried out to strengthen social capital will be the most successful in areas, where the social capital will be the strongest already before the reform. The question is, to which regions on the scale “feeble” – “strong” the reform will help the most.
In spite of all controversial and contradictory findings about investment into the human and the social capital and the role of education in these processes, it will be always true, as stated by Kvalsund (2001, p. 1), that “a school may provide a means to move out of the community for some young people, but also be an arena for recruitment of those who will develop and maintain the local community and its region.”