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

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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.

 

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

Yvanka B. Raynova

Abstract: The aim of the article is to argue the thesis that, 25 years after the fall of communism, with the exception of former Yugoslavia, there has been and still is, a lack of „women’s movements“ in the post-communist countries. The author also proposes some explanations as to why there are dozens of women’s organizations but no women’s movements. In order to support her thesis, the author emphasizes the difference between „women’s movements“, „feminist movements“ and „social movements“, and shows the weakness of some current definitions. Instead of a definition, the author indicates the conditions for a women’s movement, which are: (1.) women’s oppression and discrimination as a prevalent situation, which motivates a movement when that situation is perceived as intolerable; (2.) ideas and concrete strategies on how to proceed in order to change this situation; (3.) some kind of organization or leading personalities, able to coordinate and unite women in a mass movement and to ensure continuity of action until the goals of the movement are achieved; and (4.) large masses of women who are motivated and ready to fight resolutely for changing their situation. The provided analyses show that these conditions have not been always given but that the persisting problems of women’s problems can be resolved only if women engage more actively in civil society so as to enforce their claims.

Citizens in Everyday Life

Svetla Koleva, Tanya Nedelcheva, Diana Nenkova, Dimitrina Popilieva

Abstract:What are the developments that occur in view of the ineffectiveness of institutionalized politics, and which underlie the upsurge of spontaneous, reactive, situational manifestations of civic action? What is the driving force behind a solidary and vigorous civil society? On the basis of survey results, the article argues that civil society is the product of constant, daily efforts, here and now, to achieve a decent life for each and all. The practices of the so-called everyday/ordinary/active citizenship are presented, i.e., civic initiatives and mobilizations conducted outside the traditional institutions of political action (political parties, trade unions) and outside the classical forms of direct and representative democracy; everyday citizenship is engendered in the space of everyday life in response to the unjust or illegal appropriation of a public good, or in response to problems that are unrecognized or ignored by the public authorities.

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

Abstract: The article, based on results from an empirical study of problems and needs of children without parental care in the area of Sofia, aims to review the fundamental deficits of the state-organized special care for children in care institutions and to present the beneficial role of the civil sector for providing an important contribution to the process of emotional and educational growth and successful social integration of children in special care.

Bulgarian Political Crisis – from Nihilism to Disorganization

Valeri Lichev

Abstract: The paper examines the development of the Bulgarian protests that began in 2013; the author views these as a transition from a nihilistic attitude towards all the achievements of the years of democracy to the creation of new forms of sociality which, in the terminology of S. Lash, could be defined as „disorganizations“. Fundamental for the latter are values, not procedural norms or rules. The disadvantage of the Bulgarian version of disorganizations is the lack of reflexivity about their foundation.

Contemporary Ethnopolitical Conflicts in Bulgaria: Legal Dimensions

Peter Cholakov

Abstract: The article examines the role of the legislation and judicial system in Bulgaria for the prevention and resolution of ethnopolitical conflicts. In the first part of the paper, the author makes an overview of the ethnic relations in Bulgaria in conjunction to the specifics of the political system. The second part outlines the problems in the implementation of the EU legislation in the Bulgarian Protection against Discrimination Act (2004). The third part of the work includes case studies that reveal various forms of discrimination to which the Roma are subjected. The case studies illuminate the ways in which the judicial system and the relevant legislation operate. They help to reveal and map the problematic issues. The present work indicates that, on a number of occasions, the rights of the minority ethnic groups have not been adequately protected by the institutions and have even been violated by representatives of the very bodies that have the task to maintain justice. The flaws of the judicial institutions and the legislation are further aggravated by the fact that the general public is still not alarmed by the cases of discrimination against ethnic groups and does not perceive them as an issue worthy of attention.

Renewable Energy Industry in Bulgaria: Challenges to Its Development

Martin J. Ivanov

Abstract: The article discusses the dynamic development of renewable energy sources (RES) in recent years in Bulgaria and analyzes various problems confronting its integration in the Bulgarian electrical grid system, including: the separation of the Electricity System Operator (ESO) from the National Electric Company (NEC), which has been postponed for years, and which, if done, might put a priority on investments in the electrical grid; the failure to introduce the EU Third Liberalization Package, the aim of which is to set the system entirely on market principles; regulations that primarily favour the large and medium RES projects, while leaving a comparatively limited field for genuine local entrepreneurship; lack of possibilities for investments in household installations; political-economic interdependences and lack of transpa-rency, which have characterized a large share of the investment projects. The article devotes attention to the question why environmental organizations, paradoxically and unlike their counterparts in Western Europe, are among the fiercest opponents of RES development in Bulgaria.

Civil Society and the Media in the Whirlwind of Endless Changes

Krassimira Trendafilova

Abstract:The paper discusses the relationships between civil society and the media. What are the role, tasks and functions of the media in a society in which endless policy changes are occurring? What are the possibilities of civil society to influence the media? The term „civil society“ is defined as a participation in independent, self-organized and self-governing associations; civil society in post-communist countries remains an ideological ideal rather than a pragmatic model of daily behavior; it is developing too slowly, has not yet become sufficiently mature; the media are not doing enough to promote its ideas. In the information society, access to information is of crucial political importance; it implies the possibility for many citizens to be involved in solving the problems of society. Hence, the role of the media is to help make the audience become active citizens, not just viewers or listeners. While in developed countries civil society is involved in the government structures of the state, the post–communist countries have yet to create legitimate structures for civil society, to revive traditions of tolerance and dialogue, and to apply policies supportive of changes, which should engage the joint efforts of both the state and civil society.

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

Vyara Gancheva

The article deals with information asymmetry between the state and citizens twenty-five years after the start of the transition in Bulgaria (1989). The author analyses the connection between the so-called „state capture“ and the condition of institutional transparency, the media and civic organizations. The article examines the causes, manifestations, and consequences of information asymmetry, including the phenomenon of „rational ignorance“ and „the culture of non-participation“. The discussion covers the formation of „information ghettoes“ and communication regarding EU funds, provided through the Management and Observation Information System for EU Structural Instruments (MOIS). The author addresses the questions: how do deficits of „mental software“ block the action of the so-called „institutional hardware“, i.e., laws and law enforcement institutions, and how can the disempowerment of citizens be overcome in a post-totalitarian state? The conclusion is that the solutions related to the sharing of power and the development of civic culture, including the culture of partnership, solidarity and participation, would pose a problem if values and attitudes are not changed, if the hidden „civic reserve“ is not mobilized, including that of pensioners and students, and if the potential of the new information and communication technologies and of the social media is not put to use.

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