Living and Dealing with Limited Opportunities: Social Disadvantage and Coping Strategies in Rural Peripheries

Josef Bernard, Anja Decker, Renata Mikešová, Kateřina Vojtíšková


In this article, manifestations of social disadvantage in peripheral rural settings in the Czech Republic are investigated. Based on the theory of local opportunity structures, the authors identify various aspects of the spatial context that intersect with individual handicaps of people and their households and contribute to poverty and social exclusion. Moreover, coping strategies of vulnerable rural inhabitants are investigated. The empirical analysis is based on qualitative interviews with people affected by various forms of disadvantage, living in three economically weak rural regions. Multiple intersections between individual and contextual factors of disadvantage were uncovered. Limited job opportunities and precarious labour conditions within the local labour market, and the absence and difficult accessibility of services, represent the most important restrictions. Households living in poverty, the unemployed, people with care duties and persons with disabilities have very limited possibilities of overcoming the restrictions of a meager local opportunity structure. Their main problem is their low spatial mobility and temporal flexibility. The result is multiplication of individual vulnerabilities in rural localities. Two types of coping strategies, locality-based and mobility-based, have been identified as partial compensation of the existing deficits.

Klíčová slova

rural disadvantage; local opportunity structure; social exclusion; coping strategy; spatial context; Czech Republic

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