Inter-Group Cleavages in Amalgamated Territorial Hromadas: Risks of Social Cohesion Weakening in Decentralized Ukraine
Keywords:inter-group cleavages, amalgamated territorial hromadas, decentralization, social cohesion, social inequality
The paper is dedicated to studying major inter-group cleavages in amalgamated territorial hromadas in Ukraine as a horizontal objective component of social cohesion weakening proposed by J. Chan. The author has realized the attempt to adapt Chan’s model of social cohesion measurement in the framework of qualitative sociological perspective, basing on analysis of 26 semi-structured interviews conducted with decentralization experts, representatives of civil society, local elected officials and local authorities in the amalgamated hromadas two border regions of Ukraine – Kharkiv and Chernivtsi. The study has shown the existence of such types of inter-group cleavages «newly established hromada – the previous local authorities»; «hromada authorities – locals»; «сenter-periphery»; «rich hromadas - poor hromadas»; «decentralized Ukraine - non-decentralized Ukraine». Existence of social expectations of «old» corrupt practices reproduction in the management of the newly amalgamated hromadas, which destroys the notion of decentralization as a mechanism of strengthening democracy and transparency is identified in the study as well as the risks of local elites capture. The research has shown that various starting points of territorial units in readiness to implement the reform, the voluntary nature of amalgamation and the weak control of the implementation contributed to the formation of new intergroup alliances on the principle of «rich with rich», that led to both deepening social inequality in Ukraine and strengthening of closed «social orders» establishing. The author has emphasized the urgency of the beginning of decentralization reform administrative stage, which helps to reduce the social gap between decentralized and non-decentralized Ukraine.
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