Volume 54 / 2022 Issue 1
WELL-BEING IN THE BALKANS IN A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE
WELL-BEING IN THE BALKANS IN A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE
Уводни думи
Preface
Pages: 5 - 9 (5 pages)
Is There Anything Beyond Happiness? A Comparative European Perspective Towards the Multi-Dimensional Character of Subjective Well-Being
Is There Anything Beyond Happiness? A Comparative European Perspective Towards the Multi-Dimensional Character of Subjective Well-Being
Abstract: The purpose of this article is fourfold: firstly, to present a theoretically grounded understanding of individual subjective well-being; secondly, to explore the relationship between individual subjective well-being and important factors at the individual and macro levels; thirdly, to examine the embeddedness of individual subjective well-being in different socio-economic contexts; and fourthly, to empirically test whether the opportunity structures in which people live moderate the influence of individual characteristics on subjective well-being. The article uses data from the European Social Survey, wave 2012, and focuses on four Balkan countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo and Slovenia) in a wider comparative European perspective. Using linear regression models, the study shows that individual subjective well-being is positively associated with achieved individual characteristics such as employment status and acquired level of education. The analysis also reveals that all Balkan countries except Bulgaria have higher mean values of subjective well-being than the rest of the 22 European countries, and that individual subjective well-being is embedded in different social contexts. The results suggest that, although happiness and life satisfaction are very important dimensions of individual subjective well-being, it should not be reduced to them, and that individual subjective well-being as a positive functioning is a complex phenomenon.
Pages: 9 - 31 (23 pages)
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Inequalities and Justice in the Balkans. A Comparison Between Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia
Inequalities and Justice in the Balkans. A Comparison Between Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Serbia
Abstract: This paper offers a comparison between five Balkan countries (Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia), based on data from the European Social Survey (2018). Distributive fairness, i.e., individual attitudes to the principles of just income distribution, is in focus. The aim is to compare the stratified normative beliefs of the low, middle and high income groups to distributive justice and to investigate individual and macro level factors for fairness assessments of the receivedThis paper offers a comparison between five Balkan countries (Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia), based on data from the European Social Survey (2018). Distributive fairness, i.e., individual attitudes to the principles of just income distribution, is in focus. The aim is to compare the stratified normative beliefs of the low, middle and high income groups to distributive justice and to investigate individual and macro level factors for fairness assessments of the received wages. The results show that meritocratic beliefs predominate over egalitarian ones, and the former are shared by different income strata in the five countries. At the opposite, the discrepancy between the income strata in sharing of egalitarian beliefs exists in all compared countries. The strongest factor of assessing one’s income as unfairly low is the size of the received pay, followed by the level of education and gender. Fewer women than men assess their incomes as fair when controlling for education. Higher assessments of unjust income are made by people with low or medium income and with education less than tertiary. Of the macro-factors, only the Gini coefficient increases the assessment of income as unfairly low. The conclusion is that macro differences between Balkan countries are decreasing, beside the overall level of inequality in the respective society, but the importance of inequalities based on individual factors and social positions is growing.
Pages: 32 - 48 (17 pages)
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Social Justice at Stake: Education of African Students in Bulgaria 1960–1990
Social Justice at Stake: Education of African Students in Bulgaria 1960–1990
Abstract: With the process of decolonization on the African continent, which began in the mid-1950s, the “battle for the minds and hearts” of formerly colonial African peoples was fought primarily through education policy. Based on the educational policy and institutional practices of the Bulgarian Socialist state towards African students studying in the country, this article problematizes the shifting boundaries and ambiguous dimensions of social justice in and through education. Combined, the analytical capacities of Sen’s capability approach and the political economy of education draw attention to the historical circumstances, macrosocial conditions, interests and strategies of various political and institutional actors, and individual intentions and goals. The policies and dynamics regarding the number of African students being educated, the compromises made in the selection of candidates and in the assessment of their learning outcomes, and the application of both restrictive (e.g., in terms of choice of specialty) and permissive (relative freedom to travel abroad) measures, were, all, results of the actions of institutional actors, for whom education was an instrument for attaining state, diplomatic, economic, and political goals, in the pursuit of which the proclaimed principles of social justice could be used as a bargaining chip.
Pages: 49 - 70 (22 pages)
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Kuznets in Sofia? Why are Wage and Income Inequalities in Bulgaria So High?
Kuznets in Sofia? Why are Wage and Income Inequalities in Bulgaria So High?
Abstract: Income inequalities in Bulgaria are higher and are increasing more than in any other EU member state. On the basis of the Kuznets curve, high income inequality could be understood as the result of a sectoral shift from an industrialized to a service-centred society. However, such an explanation ignores the changing occupational structures and institutional contexts of a post-Socialist society integrating itself in European and global value chains. On the basis of micro-data on wage and income structures, the polarization of sectoral, educational, and occupational structures, the pluralization of life styles and the low impact of egalitarian institutions is shown. The Bulgarian example highlights the extraordinary challenges and social risks post-Socialist transition and modernization processes still imply for some groups and countries and for the social cohesion of Europe as a whole.
Pages: 71 - 103 (33 pages)
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The European Union Between Transnational Integration and National Disintegration: Challenges of the 2020s
The European Union Between Transnational Integration and National Disintegration: Challenges of the 2020s
Abstract: This chapter addresses four major challenges the European Union must manage in the 2020s in order to regain its legitimacy among the European people. The first of these is the democratic deficit, a problem that has been on the agenda for 30 years now but has not been resolved in any way. The second is the monetary union, which, so far, has not served as an integrating force but much more as a dividing force. The third challenge is the emergence of a transfer union, which exceeds the available economic powers and the bonds of solidarity between the richer and poorer member states. The fourth one is uncontrolled immigration exceeding the available resources of welfare and solidarity between people. The less the European Union succeeds in managing these challenges, the more it will be confronted with right- and left-wing populist movements aiming to give back decision-making powers to the member states and returning to the original idea of a European Economic, but not Political, Union.
Pages: 104 - 111 (8 pages)
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EU Enlargement and its Impact on European Integration
EU Enlargement and its Impact on European Integration
Abstract: The focus of this article is on the interplay of EU enlargement policy and practice on the one hand and the European integration process on the other. Hence, I will first discuss certain concepts of European integration in order to put the definition of the problem in context. Secondly, I will consider some important dimensions of the enlargement policy pertaining to the Western Balkan countries and show the state of affairs in particular countries in this region. Special attention will be directed at the nature of the enlargement process, its legal regulation and the progress achieved so far. Importantly, a focus will be put on the presentation of the personal attitudes of people in the region, which will enable an evidence-based conceptualization of the accession of Western Balkan countries to the EU. This final section presents attitudes towards European integration emerging from the biographical work of citizens outside the EU.
Pages: 112 - 123 (12 pages)
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Sources and Impact of Non- and Post-Truth Situations
Sources and Impact of Non- and Post-Truth Situations
Abstract: Post-truth and fake news are part of the contemporary age and they are a new phenomenon, connected with a deep crisis of universal values and important changes in social life and in culture, changes leading to important aberrations, including of memory and history. This is highly visible in political representation; and it leads to relativism that tries to appear as truth. The article distinguishes here between warlike relativism ‒ my truth against your truth, and ecumenical relativism ‒ all truths are acceptable; the author emphasizes the responsibility of the elites with respect to such issues.
Pages: 124 - 135 (12 pages)
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European Identity: Collective Memory and Political Culture
European Identity: Collective Memory and Political Culture
Abstract: One of the most fundamental problematics of European integration is the issue of the common European identity. The academic and policy debates that are developed around this issue highlight the fact that the EU cannot be transformed into a nation-state or even retain the characteristics that we know form nation-states, such as cultural identity and collective memory. Nevertheless, the European identity ‒ partly a social reminder and partly a social construction ‒ demands a transnational sense of identification. During the transition from “communitarianism” to “sociability” and modernity, new networks of relationships emerge and the phobic syndrome of otherness is more easily dealt with. Nevertheless, despite the forces of modernization ‒ such as the growing familiarity with social diversifications, travel facilities and mixed marriages, among others ‒ social groups continue to play a leading role in forming collective memories and identities and developing trust-building mechanisms. In any case, what still constitute the pivotal factors for such formations are collective memories and identifications. Against these backdrops, the European identity still lacks the necessary social groups as well as the collective memories and identifications to drive this trust-building forward. Due to that, the acceptance of the European identity is subject to constant fluctuations, which warrants investigation.
Pages: 136 - 152 (17 pages)
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Statism as a Conservative Political Value in Bulgaria
Statism as a Conservative Political Value in Bulgaria
Abstract: One of the most fundamental problematics of European integration is the issue of the common European identity. The academic and policy debates that are developed around this issue highlight the fact that the EU cannot be transformed into a nation-state or even retain the characteristics that we know form nation-states, such as cultural identity and collectiv
Pages: 153 - 171 (19 pages)
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“Freedom From...” And “Freedom To...”: Two Sides of the Same Coin for Civil Society and the Current Challenges of the European Welfare States
“Freedom From...” And “Freedom To...”: Two Sides of the Same Coin for Civil Society and the Current Challenges of the European Welfare States
Abstract: Welfare states in Europe are facing major challenges today. Some have even announced the end of the welfare state. By contrast, civil society has been assigned a greater share of responsibility in these states. The key challenge is to balance divergent interests, or at least to provide approaches that enable learning to live with these conflicting interests. Thus, civil society plays a great role for welfare states in Europe. There are many opportunities for citizens and civil society organizations in Europe to voice their opinion and participate in the processes of policy making in order to strengthen freedom and democracy as a guarantee that the welfare state will be run well. Freedom and civil society are two sides of the same coin. This can be illustrated by developments in Eastern European and Western countries. While civil society in Eastern European countries is primarily characterized by its striving for political rights, particularly during the transformation process (freedom from authoritarian suppression), in the Western European states, civil society organizations primarily focus on representing societal interests and engaging in and providing relevant services for modern societies (freedom to achieve social improvement). The authors argue that these two roles of civil society are closely interlinked: If civil society succeeds in enforcing the rights of citizens, it must then be determined how it can continue to pursue its goals in an organized way. As part of this transformation process, civil society has a great potential to stabilize European welfare states. It provides a variety of approaches as to how welfare states can negotiate diverging, or even conflicting, interests, or rather how public and civil actors can live with these differences. This chapter aims to illustrate the linkage between the two functions of civil society and points out the resulting chances and challenges.
Pages: 172 - 188 (17 pages)
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How Class-Created Vulnerability Shapes Biographical Agency: Α Case-Study Mixed-Methods Research Design
How Class-Created Vulnerability Shapes Biographical Agency: Α Case-Study Mixed-Methods Research Design
Abstract: Our study aims at shedding light on how class-related vulnerability, far from leading deterministically to social isolation, or blocked mobility, potentially gives rise to biographical agency through which dispossessed subjects deal successfully with the problem. Vulnerability is approached as a life-course phenomenon in the sense that working-class people may lack agency in one period of their life course, but they may implement it in a subsequent life period. By means of a case-study mixed-methods research design, we present quantitative data related to dispossessed conditions of working-class people living in the regional units of Piraeus and West Attica, Greece, two areas which share a rich industrial past and have painfully experienced the impact of the recent economic crisis. The analysis of qualitative data follows, highlighting how agency is temporally and relationally shaped within these conditions.
Pages: 189 - 219 (31 pages)
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Subjective Well-Being in Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia – Rural-Urban Differences and Cross-National Comparison
Subjective Well-Being in Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia – Rural-Urban Differences and Cross-National Comparison
Abstract: The importance of measuring subjective aspects of well-being for a more accurate assessment of the quality of life has been increasingly recognized in theory and empirical studies. In this paper; we analyze and compare subjective well-being (SWB) in rural and urban areas of four countries in the post-Yugoslav space that were included in Round 9 (2018) of the European Social Survey (ESS); two members of the European Union (EU); Croatia and Slovenia; and two non-EU countries; Montenegro and Serbia. We have constructed the Subjective Well-being Index (SWI) based on available ESS items; as a more concise version of VanderWeele’s Flourishing Index (2017). Our SWI consists of three domains: (1) happiness and life satisfaction; (2) mental and physical health; and (3) financial and material stability. Results indicate that; regardless of the settlement type; the respondents from two EU countries have a higher perceived SWI than those from two non-EU countries. Rural-urban differences were found in all four countries; with urban respondents scoring significantly higher on the SWI than their rural counterparts. This research fills the gap in SWB literature in these countries and their rural and urban areas; as well as offers a new comparative insight between them.
Pages: 220 - 241 (22 pages)
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Healthy and Happy Amidst Covid-19? How is That Possible?
Healthy and Happy Amidst Covid-19? How is That Possible?
Abstract: Based on the latest empirical assessments of health and the feeling of happiness, gathered under the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP, 2021), the article offers a sociological reconstruction of the correlation between health and happiness. A particular feature here is that the empirical data was gathered amidst the COVID-19 pandemic – unprecedented in its nature and duration. The study demonstrates a direct ratio between the individual’s health condition and his/her feeling of happiness. Health is influenced by the age factor: as age advances, basic health indicators tend to deteriorate. The feeling of happiness is influenced primarily by a person’s age, type of employment, position in the system of relations of production, and material status. A sociological reading of the empirical data urges the observation that, living under the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant share of adult Bulgarians are more inclined to define themselves as healthy and happy than under normal conditions, where people tend to share more moderate assessments in this respect.
Pages: 242 - 261 (20 pages)
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Tolerance in the Balkans: the European Context
Tolerance in the Balkans: the European Context
Abstract: This paper investigates tolerance in the Balkans for the “different others”; for members of the LGBT community and for migrants in a cross-cultural European context. Tolerance is defined as a value construct of willingness to accept the right of different people to live according to their cultural models even if the latter are not always acceptable for other social groups. For us; tolerance is a multi-dimensional social phenomenon combining four interconnected components: perception; recognition; appreciation; and acceptance of diversity. Our main goal here is to discover how six Balkan societies consider people of different sexual orientations; migrants; and “different others” in comparison with the rest of Europe. We have used data from Round 9 of the European Social Survey (ESS) as the empirical background and purposefully constructed three main discourses grounded on: 1) Tolerance Indexes ‒ to measure the levels of tolerance; 2) Key Driver Analyses ‒ to measure the impact of influencers on tolerance levels through the application of a machine learning algorithm for each selected country; 3) Measuring the impact of the GDP as a macro-level control indicator of tolerance levels. We found a serious discrepancy between the discursive declaration of acceptance of diversity and selectiveness in actual practice. In general; European tolerance is higher on a hypothetical basis (as a publicly reported positive standpoint towards “different others”) than with regard to actual targets. In particular; tolerance in the Balkans is four times lower than in the rest of Europe. Influencers on tolerance rank differently in each society; but the top common vector is trust in people and national institutions (although the linear correlations in the Balkans and in Europe go in opposite directions); followed by happiness; religion; and the living standard.
Pages: 262 - 281 (20 pages)
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Digitalization and Digital Transformation in Society And Education
Digitalization and Digital Transformation in Society And Education
Abstract: This article aims to trace the dimensions of the digital transformation that is taking place in modern knowledge societies, to analyze the nature of the digital transformation and the ways in which it becomes possible. Education, university education in particular, is a specifi c environment of digital transformation; it, too, is changing under the infl uence of digitalization. The most active digital transformation in university education was dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic experienced in 2020 by the world community. In practice, all university education is being restructured according to the principles of digitalization and carried out in an online environment. This article focuses on the reactions of students, their assessments and views regarding the ongoing online learning and its formatting.
Pages: 282 - 296 (15 pages)
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Is There Decent Work in the Online Food Delivery Business? Case Studies of Bulgaria and Serbia)
Is There Decent Work in the Online Food Delivery Business? Case Studies of Bulgaria and Serbia)
Abstract: Work being conducted via online platforms has developed extremely rapidly in recent years and is one of the most important factors in the digital transformation of employment. While platform work in Western Europe has been a subject of increasing research interest during the last five years, contributions about Central and Eastern Europe are relatively scarce, especially concerning food delivery. The article demonstrates that while globally online food delivery platform work is most often associated with low quality, in the case of Bulgaria and Serbia delivery riders benefit from at least some dimensions of decent work.
Pages: 297 - 315 (19 pages)
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Digital Literacy as a Factor of Internet Safety – A Comparative Analysis of Serbia, the Western Balkans and the Eu27 Countries
Digital Literacy as a Factor of Internet Safety – A Comparative Analysis of Serbia, the Western Balkans and the Eu27 Countries
Abstract: Digital literacy and Internet safety become increasingly important as the number of active Internet users rapidly rises. One of the elements that represent a precondition for Internet safety is digital literacy; i.e.; the ability to use the Internet in a safe and reliable way. Following EU policies; Serbia is making digital literacy one of the key indicators of national growth and market competitiveness. This paper represents a comparative analysis of the development of digital literacy in Serbia and selected EU and Western Balkan countries. The main goal is to analyse and compare the extent to which these skills differ across the selected countries. The analysis includes four dimensions: access and frequency of Internet use; development of digital skills; purpose of Internet use; and safety risks. These have been examined based on data derived from EUROSTAT; ESS and the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia databases. The analysis shows that Serbia is actively approaching the EU because the gap in digital literacy between the Serbian population and the populations of EU countries is narrowing down. While the citizens of Serbia do not yet have a sufficiently developed awareness of the safety risks; other Western Balkan countries are lagging behind even more in this respect.
Pages: 316 - 337 (22 pages)
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Value Orientations and Social Differences in the Attitudes Toward Voluntary Childlessness Among Young Adults in Bulgaria
Value Orientations and Social Differences in the Attitudes Toward Voluntary Childlessness Among Young Adults in Bulgaria
Abstract: The aim of the study is to explore the dynamics of social-demographic differences between young adults in Bulgaria who have negative attitudes; remain neutral toward or accept voluntary childlessness. The analysis is based on data from the European Social Survey (Bulgarian dataset) conducted in 2006 and 2018. A descriptive trend analysis is applied to reveal the dynamics of the attitudes toward male or female voluntary childlessness among different socio-demographic groups. The analysis reveals an increasing trend of neutrality and a slight increase in the affirmative attitudes toward VC among different socio-demographic groups. Applied correlation analysis shows a significant association between the attitudes toward voluntary childlessness; non-marital unions and parenthood in such unions; divorce of parents with small children and mothers’ early return to work. The present study also outlines the differences in the general value orientations of the individuals who reject; remain neutral or accept voluntary childlessness. Young adults with neutral or affirmative attitudes support to a lesser degree the traditional norms related to modesty; obedience; and respect for the traditional authorities; and strongly emphasize freedom of self-expression; independence; joy and excitement in life; and trust in others.
Pages: 338 - 359 (22 pages)
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Hesitations About the Mandatory Childhood Immunization Calendar and Their Relationship to Trust
Hesitations About the Mandatory Childhood Immunization Calendar and Their Relationship to Trust
Abstract: In this article; we examine the topic of trust in the parent-physician interaction in the specific case of mandatory childhood immunizations. Our analysis tracks the change in the interaction framework that the mandatory character of vaccination and the involvement of the child as a third party imposes. We recognize that a shift in the parental role to that of an informed and responsibilized decision-maker affects the interaction and blocks some of the possibilities for establishing trust. Key findings regarding distrust are derived from vaccine refusers who indicate more aspects of distrust in their accounts of the vaccination practices. Still; common concerns shared by other parents are pointed out – ones regarding the child as a specific; unique individual and the role of different interests in the physicians’ decision-making process.
Pages: 360 - 382 (23 pages)
Young Bulgarian Graduates in the Process of School-to-Work Transition. Youth Between Individual Agency and Family Support
Young Bulgarian Graduates in the Process of School-to-Work Transition. Youth Between Individual Agency and Family Support
Abstract: In the contemporary situation of social insecurity and new forms of educational training and work, young people are becoming more inclined to experiment with their educational and employment careers. The processes of extension of the educational period and the validation of new flexible forms of work are results of the global social changes that lead to a more unpredictable and unmanageable situation for people. In this context young people are forced to be more active and to make more individualized life decisions. This paper focuses on two youth groups – high school graduates and university graduates. The analysis aims to outline the specific situation of young Bulgarians: the interlacement between educational attainments, access to the labour market and life values and resourses formed in the family. The quantitative data are drawn from an online survey conducted in 2020 using the respondent method (121 young Bulgarians). The results enable defining the vision of young people with regard to the successful transition from education to employment, and revealing their problems and the specific new lifestyles they are following. Youth’s views are summarized through the prism of their relationships with parents. The study is a good basis for more in-depth qualitative research on young people in transition to employment.
Pages: 383 - 397 (15 pages)
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Re-Imagining the Benefits of Adult Education
Re-Imagining the Benefits of Adult Education
Pepka Boyadjieva, Petya Ilieva-Trichkova, Adult Education as Empowerment. Re-imagining Lifelong Learning through the Capability Approach, Recognition Theory and Common Goods Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan, 2021)
Abstract: The text is impressive with the width and depth of the theoretical perspectives it mobilises in order to conceptualise adult education and the benefi ts it brings for people and their communities in late modern societies.
Pages: 398 - 400 (3 pages)
Everyday Life as a Polemical Field
Everyday Life as a Polemical Field
Todor Hristov, The Sound and the Fury: Archeology of Domestic Quarrels. Sofi a: Sofia University Press, 2021
Abstract: The Sound and the Fury: Archeology of Domestic Quarrels (2021). The book deals with speech in domestic quarrels. Or, to put it more concretely, the target of the study is “impossible statements”, statements usually discarded as “meaningless voices, as noises”.
Pages: 401 - 402 (2 pages)