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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
This article presents an analysis of the socio-cultural and infrastructural transformations occurring in the southern borderland regions of the Far East: Amur Oblast, Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Primorsky and Khabarovsk Krais. These territories were barely subject to any demarcation and geopolitical changes, with shifts occurring under the influence of economic and political factors, as well as various processes associated with globalization. Based on federal and regional statistical data, together with deep interview and focus group studies conducted in small borderland towns, certain explicit and latent issues in the socio-cultural realm were identified. This article points towards considerable differences between those overall positive changes shown by statistical data on a regional level and the actual situation in any given locale, based on how it is evaluated by residents of municipalities located right next to the border. The following parameters were used as control points for analysis: changes in the population size, the current situation with housing, fundamental infrastructure in the field of education, healthcare and facilities used for cultural-leisure purposes. The study revealed certain serious issues associated with the deterioration of existing public infrastructure, most of which was created during Soviet times. The development of borderland territories is largely dependent on successfully preventing their depopulation. In order to ensure the reproduction of the socio-cultural potential of the country’s far eastern regions, and ultimately to preserve the country’s unity, the population of said regions needs to increase. The development of those areas which were part of the study is largely dependent on how active their residents are. Currently the socio-cultural sphere is being preserved thanks to the efforts of enthusiasts, despite the deterioration of public and cultural infrastructure. The identified trends are inherent to all regions of Russia, though in borderland territories they bear special significance, since borderlands at the same time serve as both a defense outpost and a bridge for establishing connections with neighboring countries. A conclusion is drawn that the bulk of the borderland territories in Russia’s Far East is currently in a depressive state, especially small towns and surrounding rural areas, which makes all the more relevant the need to support and aid in the development of borderland areas while taking into account their geographical, historical and socio-cultural characteristics within the spatial-territorial context.
Sociology, borderlands, transformation, southern regions of the Far East, social and cultural development, infrastructure
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