The Slovak Peasant in the 20th Century

Slovenský roľník v 20. storočí

In the 20th century, Slovak peasants underwent radical changes in their lifestyles, as they were forced to cope, during a historically short period, not only with the residues of feudalism in the Slovak countryside while seeking some perspectives for their life strategies, but also with the problems of modernisation, including in the European Union context at the end of the 20th century.
The cultural system of pre-industrial communities is characterised by high stability. This also applies to the Slovak countryside before the beginning of the 20th century. The environment of traditional agrarian social groups (peasant families, village communities) entailed regulating standards based on cultural models. The first half of the 20th century represented the end of this continual development of agrarian culture in Slovakia and of the way of life of traditional patriarchal peasant families.
The social and political changes after 1948 interrupted the development of the agrarian culture and the lifestyles of the rural population. The collectivisation of agriculture was perceived as a political and economic problem, without respecting the social, cultural and psychological context which could influence the thinking and acting of rural people. The failure to understand the idea of cooperatives and the ideologisation of the economic issues of the countryside had an impact on the formulation of the life strategies of individual generations. Slovak ethnography and museology found themselves in a difficult noetic situation, as they were ordered by the contemporary political elites to scientifically capture and interpret this socially highly structured process from the perspective of historical materialism.
The scientific interpretation of the period after 1989, so difficult for the Slovak countryside, showed that scientists also form a part of a social environment which conditions their perception and interpretation of social reality.