This project is a continuation of the collaborative interdisciplinary research among Dr. Arunas Juska (sociology), Dr. Richard Pozzuto (social work), and Dr. Peter Johnstone (criminal justice) on various aspects of socio-economic marginalization in post-socialist countries, with especial focus on Lithuania. Previous research in this area was financed by ECU Faculty Senate Research/Creative Activity Grant and the grant from American Sociological Association Discipline Advancement Fund. Our research had already resulted in three papers and three conference presentations. The grant awarded by ECU Russian and East European Studies Program allowed us to significantly extend the scope of our research by including two new for us areas of investigation-dynamics of growing poverty and exclusion in rural areas and the impact of marginalization on criminality in the country.
The grant also allowed to continue our collaboration with the Law University of Lithuania in Vilnius (LUL). Before we left for Lithuania, the LUL Dean of School of Social Work Dr. Leta Dromantiene had an opportunity in April 2003 to visit ECU. In Greenville Dr. Dromantiene gave a university wide lecture on social work in Lithuania, and met with ECU provost William Swart, the Dean of School of Arts and Sciences W. Keats Sparrow, and Dean of the Collage of Human Ecology, the Director of ECU Office of International Affairs, sociology and social work faculty.
In Lithuania we spent two weeks (May 13-27, 2003) conducting research and collecting data. While in Vilnius we were joined by Katherine Runnings, a master student in social work graduate program. K.Runnings had an opportunity to meet LUL social work students, to visit various social work agencies and participate in some of the interviews. Bellow we provide a brief review the work we accomplished in Lithuania in three areas of our interest: rural marginalization, criminality, and collaboration with LUL faculty.
Rural Marginalization. We began our research in Vilnius by attending the meeting at the office the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania where we were introduced to the Mayor of the Moletai municipality V.Studnys. Moletai city is located about 110 kilometers east from Vilnius. At the meeting there were present members of his staff and community organizers from two villages Balninkai and Girsteitiškes located in Moletai county. We had extensive discussions with the Mayor and community organizers on the state of rural affairs in the county as well as the ways rural communities cope with their economic and social problems.
In order get a more comprehensive view of problems associated with poverty we conducted an interview with the Health Minister of Lithuania Dr. Juozas Olekas in which we discussed the impact that marginalization has on health of the poorest strata of population in the country. We also visited the Agriculture ministry where we met the under secretary of the ministry V.Grušauskas and had extensive discussions with him and officials of the Department of Rural Development and Information regarding current situation in Lithuanian countryside. We also had an opportunity to spent almost two hours interviewing C.Juršenas, the First Deputy Chairman of the Lithuanian Seimas (the speaker of the house), on various aspects of social and economic situation in the country.
After interview with the Speaker of the House, we had opportunity to meet with the member of Seimas commission on rural affairs Mr. Moteikaitis, which allowed us to get a better understanding how rural policies are being formulated and implemented in Lithuania. Finally, we had an opportunity to meet and discuss poverty situation in Lithuania with the Minister of Social Security and Labour V.Blinkeviciute and her staff. This meeting was especially useful in gaining broader view of the strategies that the current administration in Lithuania is pursuing in this area.
Based on the interviews and the data collected, we already wrote and submitted a proposal to National Science Foundation seeking funding for an extensive survey on rural marginalization in Lithuania. The proposal is entitled Using Experience of the Rural Community Movement to Develop Communal Social Work Strategies in Rural Lithuania. In addition, we are working on two papers that are based on the research we conducted this summer in Lithuania. The first paper is entitled Roles for Social Work in Rural Development: The Case of Lithuania; the second has preliminary title The Rise of Community Development Movement as a Strategy of Resistance to Growing Marginalization of the Rural Population in Post-Socialist Lithuania. We expect to have both papers written and send to the appropriate academic journals for the review by the end of the Fall 2003 semester.
Criminality and Marginalization. The faculty of the criminal justice department at the Law University had arranged for us interviews with the Commissioner General of the Lithuanian police V.Grigaravicius and the State Secretary of Ministry of Justice, P.Koverovas. Before leaving for Lithuania we had already provided a set of prepared questions to both officials. During the interviews we had opportunity to inquire about the dynamics of criminogenic situation in Lithuania, especially about the status of organized crime in the country, and the ways the police and courts are addressing them. We were also interested in how Lithuanian policing and criminal justice systems are being prepared to the pending country's membership in the European Union in May 2004.
In this area of research we are currently preparing three products. First, we already have interviews with the Commissioner General and the State Secretary of Justice transcribed and translated into English. We are working on editing the translations, and preparing them for publication in Police Practice and Research: An International Journal which expressed interest in having materials from Lithuania published in one of its forthcoming issues. We hope to send both interviews for a review to the editor in October 2003. In addition to working on interviews, we are also preparing an entry on Lithuanian Criminal Justice System for the World Encyclopedia of the Criminal Justice Systems, Editor Dilip Das, Routledge Academic Press. This entry will be based on the data we collected this summer in Vilnius. Finally, with Dr. A.Gutauskas of LUL we are collaborating on a paper organized crime in Lithuania entitled "Typology of Organized Crime in post-Society Lithuania" (the late 1980s - the early 2000). The paper is in final stages of completion and will be sent for reviews by the end of October 2003.
ECU - Law University of Lithuania collaboration. While visiting LUL we had a meeting with the top officials of the university-chancellor, vice-chancellors for research and international affairs with whom we discussed opportunities of institutional collaboration. With us we brought the draft of the ECU-LUL collaboration agreement that was prepared by ECU International Affairs Office. During the meeting we discussed possibilities for student exchange and distance education. LUL faculty expressed interest in opportunities provided through the Rivers Foundation for the international scholars to visit and work on ECU campus for duration of an academic semester.