9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN32 Political Sociology

Voluntary Associations and Local State in Finland and in Lithuania

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role associations in local communities in Finland and Lithuania. Special focus of the paper is on the relationships between associations and actors and institutions of local government (local democracy) in the two countries. This part of the paper is based on the comparison of the differentia specifica of the associations in both communities. The data was collected by surveys in two rural localities communities, that were (are) dominated by a big industrial enterprise (Lievestuore in Finland and Pabradé in Lithuania ) in 2008. The information is intended to fill to some extent the lacunae in comparative studies on local associations and their relations with public and private organizational at the local level.

The central interest of the research is to find out who are the local (and supra local) interaction partners of associations and what are the main fields of associational action in the communities. Sub-questions concern the interaction of associations with municipal institutions, trustees and officials, the media, church congregations, companies and other associations. The research also depicts the relative prevalence of the interconnecting networks among associations. Similarities and differences in the creation of interconnecting networks in Lievestuore and Pabradé will be explored. A general (theoretical) background for comparison are typologies of (local) state - civil society relations. The relationships between citizens - and citizens? associations - and the state have historically developed in very different ways in Finland and Lithuania. In Finland the relations between associations and the state can be characterised as neocorporatist and non-statist, in Lithuania the communist inheritance is more statist and non-corporatist. In this paper we try to see how these relations are manifested at the level of local democracy. We are also asking if there are proofs of the positive influence of corporatism and negative influence of statism on associational activeness in the communities under scrutiny.