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Theory and Practice of a „Client System“ – On the Example of a Community of Ukrainian Labour Migrants in the Czech Republic – Basic PropositionsDr. Milan Lupták, PhD. Department of Politology, School of Economics in Prague
Within a community of Ukrainian labour migrants in the Czech Republic an important social capital is accumulated in a client system. Relations within the client system are typical of Ukrainian entrepreneurs and their employed compatriots. Both legal and illegal migrants are caught in client networks.
Client relations are in discussions of this issue in the Czech Republic called simply: relicts of a Soviet system, a modern slavery or a quasi-feudalism. From the state side, there is a clear attempt to eliminate Ukrainian clients by recruitment agencies that operate on the Czech market and are under state control. Such agencies, however, cannot offset client networks. This has been proven also by the Ukrainian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.
Solution of problems tied to Ukrainian client system by the state must reflect knowledge of sociologists, demographers and ethno-psychologists. The current sociology works with a coherent sociological theory of the client system (see e.g. J. Keller´s papers). The state relevant bodies do not take, too large extent, such knowledge into account.
The client relations originated in traditional societies, however, due to their effectiveness and adaptability these relations did not disappear in modern and post-modern societies. The client relations are multistratified, full of positive and negative aspects, since they are often linked to challenging human and civic rights of Ukrainian labour migrants.
A classical client system is tied to a sort of ethos that springs from a religious climate in society. Its remnants can be found even today. Decisive trends of this current era is, however, secularization of client relations and their concentration only upon searching for acquaintances and influential friends. In traditional societies the client system has a two-tier character - – „a patron“ is directly surrounded by his clients. Currently, this relation is more complicated. An important role is played by so called „brokers“, that mediate important pieces of information and contacts to a state sector.
There are many processes in the current World that support a development of a client system. For example, a breakdown of the Soviet Union and for a long-term applied „two-governemntal“ model in the first half of the 1990s in Ukraine; an increase of the client system accompanies breakdown of all empires. A shift from a classical type of company (with a hierarchical structure) to a network economy structure that is considered much flexible now, contributes to an increase of a client systém too.
The Czech legislative system as such cannot solve problems of the Ukrainian client system as long as there is a self-organization of Ukrainian labour migrants and their creation of relevant structures of civic society that represent their interests in relation to the Czech, possibly, to the Ukrainian state. The Ukrainian migration community (legal along with illegal immigrants) is probably the most numerous ethnic community in the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, their interest in establishing their own organizations and associations is, however, much smaller as compared to Romas in the Czech Republic. Ukrainians-migrants in the Czech Republic and also, for example, Ukrainians in Russia prefer, instead of stabile organizations, not stabile, not formalized contacts with accidental compatriots. Making use of these networks, for example, while searching for a job, is more risky for a migrant than making use of their own diaspora.