CIVIL SOCIETY, POLITICS, SOLIDARITY:

THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge (ISSK) at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, with the financial and logistic support of the Konrad Ade-nauer Foundation, organized a conference in Sofia, aimed at presenting the results of ongoing or recently completed projects of researchers from the Institute, and at conducting an open discussion with prominent representatives of the German academic community, with practical experts, with MPs, representatives of government and business. The goal of this meeting was to highlight how the social sciences are contributing to the solution of important public problems related to the development of Bulgarian society. From February 2013 and until the very beginning of this conference on October 28–29, 2013 in Sofia, citizens’ protests (against two consecutive governments) were at the centre of public attention and interest in Bulgaria. Bulgarian and foreign scientists, researchers and civic organization activists have tried to explain the emergence of the protests, the public energy that drives them, and their role in building a stable civil society in the country. Therefore, the conference topic, „Civil Society, Politics, Solidarity“, appeared naturally in the preliminary conversations between the Director of the ISSK, Prof. Rumiana Stoilova, and the Director of the Konrad Adenauer Office in Sofia, Dr. Marco Arndt.
This special issue of the journal Sociological Problems contains selected conference contributions. Its aim is to continue the discussion on the new and old forms of social movements, on solidarity and civil engagement, on the process of the establishment of a stable and pro-active democratic public in the post-communist societies. Civic organizations are important for the implementation and functioning of an all-embracing democratic public order. Hence, the question as to the quality of civil society becomes paramount, since it is the civic organizations that make problems publicly visible, that demand responsibility from the empowered, and that expand the circle of people having the right to make decisions on certain problems or problem fields in a given society.
The debate on civil society has been situated in the presented papers in the context of a broader discussion regarding „the common good“. The question of the withdrawal of the state from most public spheres and activities has long dominated the theoretical debate on civil society. But today more than ever, it is clear that the re-activated „citizens“ are those who must contribute to a more effective and efficient redistribution of public tasks, and who can reinforce the foundations of the social community and extend the scope of social solidarity. Issues that are becoming important include how to stimulate willingness for voluntary work, unpaid civic commitment to the interests of others, the social responsibility of business and entrepreneurs, of the Church and other social institutions. Voluntary work and participation are imperative for the proper functioning of modern society and must be practiced in addition to, and as a compensation for, the shortcomings of the existing state systems and institutions. The social responsibility of business, the assuming of social commitments by entrepreneurs and their firms, especially in the green sector and by the firms operating with the new energy sources, are an important measure of the maturity of a civil society; they contribute to increasing solidarity and compensate, to some degree, for the deficit of justice and equity for certain groups and/or communities.  
The clear distinction between civil society and the state is considered to be an essential characteristic of modernity. Together with this, however, Anthony Giddens (1997) has criticized this division, and pointed out that „civil society has never simply been an aggregate of institutions outside the state“. The state cannot be an institution by itself, for it encompasses numerous public institutions and performs – including through its support for civic organizations and associations – functions that are of public interest and benefit. Hence, contemporary civil society is naturally open to, and interacts intensively with, other spheres and organizations; as a result, conflicts between them tend to arise far more often. The capacity to provoke and resolve conflicts is a very important feature of civil society; this capacity has become manifest in new forms of public protest (including through the Internet and the social networks) and in diverging social movement with an implicitly high degree of autonomy.  
In the context of these views, the thematic issue discusses the following dimensions of the connection between civil society, politics, and solidarity:  
Civil society and political institutions; changes and challenges arising as  a result of post-communist transformation and European integration; the quality and functioning of the democratic public order under post-communist conditions; civic participation and/or alienation; social inequalities and their reproduction: Eckhard Dittrich „Post-Communism and Civil Society – Some General Conside-rations“; Pepka Boyadjieva and Petya Ilieva-Trichkova „Towards Understanding Higher Education as a Public Good: Inequalities in Access to Higher Education and Trust in a Comparative Perspective“; Rumiana Zheleva „Economic Crisis and Democratic Deficits: What Are the Perspectives for the European Integration of the Western Balkans?“
Civil society and solidarity; economic dimensions and practices of social  responsibility and civic commitment; socially responsible entrepreneurship; production of green energy and the response of the NGOs: Svetla Koleva, Tanya Nedelcheva, Diana Nenkova, and Dimitrina Popilieva „Citizens in Everyday Life“; Dona Pickard, Galina Koleva, and Slavka Karakusheva „The Potential Role of Civil Society in the Social Integration of Children Residing in Homes for Children without Parental Care“; Martin J. Ivanov „Renewable Energy Industry in Bulga-ria: Challenges to Its Development“
Sustainable development; the potential of civic organizations and political  formations; new and old protest movements; the capacity for achieving consensus in the name of an intelligent and inclusive development: Rumiana Stoilova „Civic Participation in Environmental Protection in Bulgaria“; Yvanka B. Raynova „Civil Society and ‘Women’s Movements’ in Post-Communist Europe. Main Trends and Results 25 Years after the Fall of Communism“; Valeri Lichev „Bulgarian Political Crisis – from Nihilism to Disorganization“; Petar Cholakov „Contemporary Ethnopolitical Conflicts in Bulgaria: Legal Dimensions“; Krassimira Trendafilova „Civil Society and the Media in the Whirlwind of Endless Changes“; Vyara Gancheva „State-Citizen Information Asymmetry and Sustainable (Non)Development. 25 Years since the Start of the Bulgarian Transition“.

Acknowledgments
Sincere gratitude to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) – Sofia, and personally to its Director Dr. Marco Arndt, for the provided financial support and the excellent collaboration in organizing the conference on „Civil society, Politics, and Solidarity“, as well as for the preparation of the current publication. Many thanks to all the scholars of the ISSK who were kind to participate in the peer review process, to Vladimir Vladov for the translation and language proofreading, to Plamen Ivanov for the technical edition, and to Nadezhda Krandeva (ISSK) and Marga Bileva (KAS) for their effective contribution to budgeting and financial matters. To all those mentioned above as well as to all the authors of the current issue, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for their excellent work and professional engagement!
    
Rumiana Zheleva

CIVIL SOCIETY, POLITICS, SOLIDARITY:

THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

Issue Editor: Rumiana Zheleva

Civil society: challenges of post-communist transformation and European integration

Post-Communism and Civil Society – Some General Considerations
Eckhard Dittrich

Towards Understanding of Higher Education as a Public Good: Inequalities in Access to Higher Education and Trust in a Comparative Perspective
Pepka Boyadjieva, Petya Ilieva-Trichkova

Economic Crisis and Democratic Deficits: What Are the Perspectives for the European Integration of the Western Balkans?
Rumiana Zheleva

New and old protest movements: capacity for achieving consensus

Civic Participation in Environmental Protection in Bulgaria
Rumiana Stoilova

Civil Society and ‘Women’s Movements’ in Post-Communist Europe. Main Trends and Results 25 Years after the Fall of Communism
Yvanka B. Raynova

Dimensions and practices of social responsibility and civic commitment

Citizens in Everyday Life
Svetla Koleva, Tanya Nedelcheva, Diana Nenkova, Dimitrina Popilieva

The Potential Role of Civil Society in the Social Integration of Children Residing in Homes for Children without Parental Care
Dona Pickard, Galina Koleva, Slavka Karakusheva

Conflicts and sustainable development: potential of civic organizations, entrepreneurs  and political formations

Bulgarian Political Crisis – from Nihilism to Disorganization
Valeri Lichev

Contemporary Ethnopolitical Conflicts in Bulgaria: Legal Dimensions
Petar Cholakov

Renewable Energy Industry in Bulgaria:  Challenges to Its Development
Martin J. Ivanov

Civil society, media, information

Civil Society and the Media in the Whirlwind of Endless Changes
Krassimira Trendafilova

State-Citizen Information Asymmetry and Sustainable (Non)Development. 25 Years since the Start of the Bulgarian Transition
Vyara Gancheva

 __________________

Abstracts:

 

Post-communism and Civil society – Some General ConsiderationS

 

Eckhard Dittrich

 

The essay deals with the analytic value of the term civil society. Firstly, the different historical uses of the term in Western intellectual history are presented. Secondly, the author describes the use of the term during the overthrow of the Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. Finally, the author proposes some revisions that will help in gaining an understanding of the term’s usefulness as an instrument of social diagnosis.

 

Towards Understanding of Higher Educationas a Public Good: Inequalities in Accessto Higher Education and Trustin a Comparative Perspective

Pepka Boyadjieva, Petya Ilieva-Trichkova

The paper focuses on how higher education (HE) influences the construction of social trust and how this contribution is hampered by educational inequalities. Social trust is defined as one of the most important subjective aspects of people’s well-being. The analysis refers to impersonal and institutional trust, measured with indicators such as generalized trust, generalized fairness, trust in parliament, and trust in the legal system. The study covers 22 European countries and explores the problem at macro level. It draws on data from the European Social Survey (2006–2010), applying descriptive statistics, correlations and regressions for the analysis of data. Our findings clearly show that, at the aggregate level, HE influences positively the degrees of both impersonal and institutional trust. At the centre of our analysis are educational inequalities, which are regarded as an indicator of well-being and of the defining of HE as a public good. We found evidence of moderate to strong negative correlations between inequalities in access to HE and trust among HE graduates. The paper argues that the extent to which HE is accomplished as a public good depends on its accessibility and contribution to the national well-being. We conclude that there is a need for elaboration of a full theoretical understanding of HE as a public good.

 

Economic Crisis and Democratic Deficits:  What Are the Perspectives for the European Integration of the Western Balkans?

Rumiana Zheleva

AbstractThe paper focuses on the seven Western Balkans countries on the road to EU membership, specifically, in the period of global financial and economic crisis that started in 2008. The aim is to present the interconnection between economic crisis and political deficits, while highlighting the role of democratic institutions and the public environment for overcoming the crisis. Against this backdrop, the author presents some general lessons that have been learned and the prospects for European integration of the Western Balkan countries. The empirical data on which this paper is based are the results of an international project conducted on behalf of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Brussels, and the Center for European Studies, Brussels, in the period 2010–2012. Some of the basic conclusions are that decreasing the negative impact of the crisis upon these countries’ economies and the improvement of the population’s economic situation is of vital importance for gaining public support for, and achieving progress in, the pre-accession process. This study has confirmed the pro-European orientation of the Western Balkan countries, which persists despite the severe economic crisis. Yet the political deficits and weaknesses of the democratic process in some of the countries, and in the Western Balkans as a whole, intensify the negative impact of the economic consequences of the crisis and create additional obstacles to the progress of pre-accession.

 

Civic Participation in Environmental Protection in Bulgaria

Rumiana Stoilova

Abstract: The present article applies social movement theories to environmental behavior and analyzes to what extent individualcharacteristics have an impact on public environmental behavior in Bulgaria. Social movementsprovidereferencepointsforthe investigation of environmental behaviorasa characteristicofsocialinclusionandsolidarityinsociety. Comparative data for the public and individual environmental behaviour are discussed and donations are investigated through data from two empirical surveys carried out in 2007 and 2013. A number of conclusions are drawn. The probability that people will donate is lower for those who estimate their well-being as „satisfactory“ and as „bad“ compared with those with „good“ material well-being. Chances of donating among people with higher education are greater compared with people with secondary education. Individuals who are not in employment (unemployed, students and pensioners) have a lower probability of donating than individuals who are employed.However, students are more probably involved in voluntary actions. Factors that are not statistically significant for the probability to donate are age, gender, and family status.

 

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