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Article

Пространственная изоляция и устойчивость локальных сообществ: к развитию существующих подходов

In the 1990s, the public transportation system in provincial Russia shrank significantly. Most affected were the water transport and small aircraft aviation. As a result, many rural local communities, not connected with the “mainland” by all-season roads, found themselves in territorial isolation. The paper deals with the case of villages that have poor transport com-munication with the outer world, including their district (rayon) center, or none at all (in the conventional sense). It studies the influence of territorial isolation on their sustainability. One can find two opposing views of such influence in the academic literature. According to the first approach, after losing government support, peripheral and especially hard-to-reach vil-lages become economically unviable, unattractive for living in them and doomed to extinction. According to the second approach, the noninterference of the state in the life of the local population enhances the solidarity, self-organization and self-sufficiency of the communities, which makes them sustainable to economic cataclysms. Based on the findings of his field re-search, which addressed the social structure of territorially isolated settlements, the author attempts to contribute to the development of these approaches. He concludes that under other-wise equal starting conditions at the time when transport accessibility collapsed or deterio-rated, those communities that became considerably isolated turn out to be sustainable (viable), and sometimes even more so than their non-isolated counterparts, whereas the resilience of communities that ended up in minor isolation sharply decreases. In other words, with the emergence and increase of territorial isolation, the sustainability curve of communities first declines, and then starts to rise. This is due to the following circumstances. Insignificant isola-tion manifests primarily its disadvantages – poor transport accessibility and supply, unavail-ability of any decent labor market, low profitability of business, etc. However, the more iso-lated a community is, the more such shortcomings are balanced and sometimes even out-weighed by the increasing advantages, the principal one being the ability of the locals to use the surrounding natural resources at their discretion and free of any control.