Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Textile Factories and Subsistence Plots: Rural Women's Livelihoods and Unique Transition Experiences in Bulgaria
by Polderman, Maria Catharina, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2006, 237; 10835717
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study is to explore rural women's livelihoods under varying trajectories of transition towards a market economy and democracy, which might be unevenly distributed and experienced across space, generations, and ethnicity. Previous research has shown that post-socialist transitions are unique, complex, and spatially uneven processes, with multiple outcomes. Much, however, remains poorly understood regarding these processes.

Overall, it is clear that the transition has profound and differential impacts on women's livelihoods and everyday lives. It is not clear, however, whether rural women in particular are ultimately better or worse off, how transition experiences vary among rural women, and to what degree these are influenced by local uneven development. Finally, people in post-socialist countries combine a variety of capitalist and non-capitalist practices to make a living, but it is not clear how rural women's reliance on such non-capitalist practices may change under economic transition, and what role natural resources play in these practices.

This study combines approaches that highlight multiple regional transitions and everyday life with a feminist political ecology approach. I use a regional comparative study of two villages to elicit the different transition paths evident in the research region. Semi-structured interviews and relevant secondary data provide a thorough account of the experiences of rural women in Bulgaria.

Several findings from my research stand out. First, uneven local development in the study area started long before the transition, but has been reinforced by the unevenness of the transition. Second, the transition in Bulgaria has profoundly influenced rural women's livelihoods, although just how their lives are affected varies with such factors as their age/life cycle, employment status, income, job, ethnicity, and residence. Third, non-capitalist practices continue to be a critical part of rural women's livelihoods. Furthermore, these non-capitalist practices have become more important in relative terms for women who saw their household's cash incomes decline. A final insight is that local uneven development plays an important role in rural women's livelihoods, because it produced different villages, which characteristics are reflected in the variety and kind of livelihoods found in these villages.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McSweeney, Kendra
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Geography
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 79/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Geography
Keywords: Bulgaria, Livelihoods, Rural areas, Transition, Women
Publication Number: 10835717
ISBN: 978-0-355-96698-5
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