From the Editors After the European Union great enlargement on May 1, 2004 and the following accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the number of the European population covered by various EU policies including the Common Agricultural Policy increased in a significant way. It resulted in two major processes forming the starting point of considerations encapsulated in the presented volume. The first one has been focused on the structure of European societies that underwent major transformations and consequently diversification of the social positions, types of the political involvement in public life as well as increasing diversities in value systems. At the same time the role of the rural population as a potential political force influencing EU social and political life has also increased. Simultaneously one of the priority objectives of the – if we might put it in this way – EU development project has been focused on the protection of natural as well as cultural resources located mainly in rural areas. Therefore the current LIX volume of the ‘Sociological Review’ has been devoted to the problems of rural areas of contemporary Europe in order to show the complexity and the richness of the issues mentioned above.
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