The rural settlement community is the opposite of the city in all its main characteristics. Here, the territorial concentration of the population is relatively low, the degree of socio-economic development is lower, a small set of types of labor activity, the predominant occupation of people is agricultural labor, and the population is highly professional and socially homogeneous.
Natural and climatic conditions determine the main types of agricultural production in a particular area (agriculture in central Russia, fishing in the North, animal husbandry in Kalmykia), the seasonal rhythm of work and leisure (unrestricted work during the harvest season and temporary unemployment in winter) and even the peculiarities of local cuisine . A villager interacts more harmoniously with nature than an urban dweller living in a technogenic environment.
The subject of the sociology of the village (village) is the main patterns of its functioning and development, the socio-economic nature, the problems of demographic and social reproduction of the population, the typology of rural settlements, the lifestyle of the population, the processes of migration, education, etc.
The main differences between the rural way of life and the urban way of life are well known: less developed and technically equipped labor, a smaller variety of jobs and professions, a strong dependence on natural and climatic conditions, as a rule, more difficult working conditions. Rural settlements are characterized by a large unity of work and life. Socially and nationally homogeneous families predominate, there is no urban anonymity of communication. Public opinion, social control, especially from the older generation, and traditions are very strong. Here the rhythm of life is lower, the forms of communication are simpler, there are fewer psychological stresses.
Some sociologists argue that all these signs only indicate a certain underdevelopment, inferiority of the rural way of life. K. Marx even wrote about “the idiocy of village life.” But one can argue with this: are all the features of the rural way of life negative?
Some of the current processes of development of urban and rural settlements convince us that the future way of life of people can be the result of a fusion of the best, attractive features of both rural and urban lifestyles. It is already visible in the urbanized regions of Western Europe and North America: sparse development with a predominance of individual houses, but a full range of utilities, proximity to nature, good roads, motorization, etc. The boom in gardening and cottage construction in our country is also eloquent proves this trend, speaks of the urbanization of the settlement system, the way of life of people.
The difference of the modern village is that it becomes not only agrarian. This applies to those regions where the mining industry is developed. In addition, several million so-called commuter migrants live in the villages (they live in the village, work or study in the city). It is clear that they bring their own style to the life of the modern village.
All these processes have led to the fact that now in Russia only half of the rural population is directly engaged in agricultural labor. Some large rural settlements are not much different from urban ones in terms of the level of improvement.
The typology of rural settlements is difficult because of the great diversity: rural settlements can be agrarian, industrial-agrarian, agrarian-administrative.
The most important feature for typology is the population density of the settlement. There are the smallest (up to 10 people), small (up to 100), medium (up to 1000) and large rural settlements with more than 1000 permanent residents.
Individual regions of the country differ greatly in the number of rural settlements. Most of all small settlements are in the North-Western region of the country, there are many farms here due to the specifics of land use, peasant traditions. It is followed by the Center, then the Volga-Vyatka region. Ahead in terms of population of rural settlements is the North Caucasus, then Siberia and the Far East.
The social development of the modern village has led to the formation of six types of rural settlements in Russia:
1. The Central Russian village, which is characterized by: migration to industrial centers, a decrease in the number of rural residents, sharp disproportions in the sex and age structure (the predominance of the elderly population); poor living conditions, low efficiency of the economy, low incomes (regions of the non-chernozem zone of Russia, most of the industrially developed regions of the Central Chernozem region).
2. The traditional patriarchal national village was formed in the regions of the North Caucasus, some regions of the Volga region, Siberia and Altai. It is characterized by high natural population growth, low efficiency of agricultural production and labor mechanization, low incomes, and hidden rural unemployment among young people.
3. An industrially developing national village, as a derivative of the traditional patriarchal one, but differs in a more urbanized way of life. Here there is a traditional model of reproduction with a high birth rate, agricultural labor is mechanized, there are service enterprises. The income of the population is higher than with the traditional type of settlement; effective personal household plot, focused on expanded commodity production.
4. A prosperous southern agricultural village (Stavropol and Krasnodar Territories, Rostov Region) is a leading producer of agricultural products. There is a high productivity of agricultural enterprises and personal subsidiary plots, a relatively high level of income of the villagers.
5. An urbanized agro-industrial village is the most favorable type of settlement. It features a developed infrastructure, intensive technologies of agricultural production. It has the highest, in comparison with other types of settlement, the level of wages, a favorable demographic situation.
6. The non-agricultural zone of the Far North and the Far East is not a “village” in the traditional sense. As a rule, these are settlements of builders, oil workers, gas workers, etc. These regions have a relatively young population, high mobility of the population, and intensive pendulum migration, which does not allow the formation of stable settlement communities. Here industrial labor dominates, workers are characterized by a high level of qualification, education and income.
The typology of rural settlements must be carefully analyzed when organizing sociological research. Only on this basis it is possible to build a sample that will be representative, to obtain reliable sociological information.