2019 Special 2

2019, Special Issue 1


 How We Live Together: Communities, Institutions, Networks

Issue Editor: Svetla Marinova


 C O N T E N T S


  • Page Range: 4
  • On March 2017, the Department of Sociology organized a two-day conference entitled “How We Live Together: Communities, Institutions, Networks” to mark the 40th anniversary of its founding. The conference was conceived as an invitation for a dialogue between social scientists and researchers working various institutions. Thus, besides members of the Department of Sociology, it gathered together representatives from the Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge at BAS, the University of National and World Economy, South-West University – Blagoevgrad, and Plovdiv University. In this special issue of the journal Sociological Problems, we are publishing some of the papers presented at the two-day conference. While it was impossible – for different reasons – to publish all the papers, we believe the selection offered here is representative of the variety of basic theoretical and research perspectives, and issues formulated and discussed in the framework of the conference. The topics include: interaction with, and community with, the Other under conditions of growing social and cultural differences; the transformations of national and regional identities in the context of the increasingly radical fragmentation of the social; the transformations of life chances and the public sphere, of social inequalities and value attitudes.

‘Bridge and Door’: Social Distance and Patterns of Translation in the ‘World Risk Society’
Svetla Marinova

  • Page Range: 5-20  
  • Keywords: World Risk Society; Cosmopolitization; Cosmopolitan Sociology; Social Distance; Cosmopolitan Empathy
  • Summary/Abstract: In the article, I aim to argue in support of the socio-scientific potential of Ulrich Beck’s concept of ‘cosmopolitization’ by subjecting it to a differentiated critique. Initially, the concept had a primarily Utopian potential, which is why critics have contended it had become obsolete in the context of the recent migrant crisis and its political consequences. On the contrary, I would argue that, beyond its Utopian potential, the concept has a social-scientific one as well. If detailed and elaborated, ‘cosmopolitization’ can become a useful sociological tool for analysis and diagnostics of current developments. Therefore, in contrast to Beck, who uses the term in an undifferentiated manner, I focus it at a specific level of social life – the level of normative regulations regarding foreigners; I explicate the sociological problem at this level by using Simmel’s metaphors of ‘window’, ‘bridge‘ and ‘door’. In conclusion, I suggest that revising the normative project of ‘cosmopolitization’ could advance the disclosure of the concept’s heuristic potential in a sociological perspective.
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Dimensions of Glocality: The Local “Us” against the Global “Them”

Petya Kabakchieva

  • Page Range: 21-35
  • Keywords: glocality; identification; categorization; refugees; “Us” vs “Them”
  • Summary/Abstract: The article poses two questions: how glocality is constituted in modern Bulgaria; and how the “us” identities (“the local people”) and “them” identities (“the refugees”) are constructed. The author concludes that the perception of glocality is increasingly constituted around the axis of a local, concrete fear of a global abstract threat, leading to the re-traditionalization of locality. Based on Brubaker and Cooper’s distinction between identification and categorization, “us” is seen as an identification of the small local community, and “them” as a categorization, constructed by political and media actors, of the “refugees as a threat”. Thus, glocality is charged with tension from the start, because two different worlds meet there - the real face-to-face world and the world of virtual media images. The encounter between the real “us” and the virtual “them” proves impossible, and this impossibility could easily lead to serious clashes between actual groups.
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Transformations of Life Chances in “Middletown”

Dimitar Blagoev

  • Page Range: 36-52
  • Keywords: Life chances; social change; heterogeneous social transformations
  • Summary/Abstract: The article proposes an innovative approach to life chances, conceptualizing them in terms of the intricate interplay between the micro dimensions (personal resources and potentials) and macro dimensions (contextual opportunities) of sociality. This understanding of life chances is employed in a qualitative study of their transformations in four Bulgarian towns; the research was carried out first in 2005 and then repeated in 2016 by means of in-depth interviews. The article presents the main results of comparative analysis of empirical evidence, which reveal heterogeneous patterns of changes in and of life chances in the studied towns. This analysis contributes new insights to the sociological understanding of a particular form of social change.
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On “Identity” in the Social Sciences: Uses, Overuses, and Misuses of a Concept
Boyan Znepolski

  • Page Range: 53-67
  • Keywords: identity; groupist social ontology; numeric identity; social identity; expressive identity
  • Summary/Abstract: The article aims to study the relevance of the concept of identity to research in contemporary social sciences. The concept is discussed in terms of both collective and individual identity. Following the analyses of the American sociologists Brubaker and Cooper, the author argues that the meaning of “identity” is incompatible with the specificity of social phenomenon as objects of scientific research. In this respect, constructivism and naturalism both lead to a groupist social ontology and to a conceptually impoverished sociology of identity that inevitably thwarts the understanding of the complexity of the social world. At the level of individual identity, the article focuses on the analyses by the French philosopher Vincent Descombes, who reestablishes the uses of the concept in the framework of three meanings: numeric identity, social identity and expressive identity. Criticizing the oxymoronic use of expressions such as “multiple identities” and “changing identity”, Descombes emphasizes the necessary social foundations of personal identity and hence points out the inadequacy of philosophical individualism, and individualist approaches in general, with regard to social phenomenon.
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Border, Heritage, Heirs

Meglena Zlatkova

  • Page Range: 68-85
  • Keywords: social capital; small town; border; heritage of migration; heirs
  • Summary/Abstract: Based on anthropological field research, the article presents study related to the experience of living in the border region between Bulgaria and Turkey in the part of Strandzha Mountain that is contiguous to the Black Sea (Tzarevo Municipality). This experience of living close to the border influences the individual and collective strategies of social networking and local development. The author discusses the local cultural heritage(s) and the construction of communities of “heirs” of migrants. The border is interpreted by them as being “ours”, as a secure, open, but also dangerous, area. The attitudes to the border are ambiguous: the passage from a strictly protected border to a green one is felt dangerous for “our living here and now”, amidst fears of diseases and migrants that might freely enter the territory. On the other hand the border offers opportunities; the know-how of living close to the neighboring country is included in many economic strategies, policies and projects for local development, based on the valued status of “being local”.
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Global Public Space

Svetlana Hristova

  • Page Range: 86-101
  • No. of Pages: 16
  • Keywords: new poors; financialization; globalization; public space
  • Summary/Abstract: During the last decade, and as a consequence of the global crisis of 2008, the modern public space, an essential element of urban habitation, has undergone radical transformation. The financialization of the economy, causing distortions in all spheres of public life and leading to new global inequalities, has ultimately led to the emergence of a global public space formed by the “new poors” pursuing new place-based protest tactics and coordinating their activities via social networks and the Internet.
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Socio-economic Inequalities and Risk Behaviors among School-aged Children in Bulgaria: Results of the HBSC

Elitsa Dimitrova, Tatyana Kotzeva

  • Page Range: 102-124
  • Keywords: children; inequatities; socio-economic status
  • Summary/Abstract: In the paper we describe the main results from the last wave of the international survey Health Behaviors of School-aged Children – HBSC in which Bulgaria took part in 2014. The analysis is focused on the following risky behaviors of the Bulgarian school-children at age 11, 13 and 15: bullying at school, smoking, drinking and cannabis use. The methods that we apply are descriptive analysis of the risky behaviors of students and regression analysis in which we test the impact on the risky behaviors of individual characteristics (gender and age) and characteristics of social environment, i.e. family, peers and school. In the analysis we test also the influence of the material status of family measured through a composed index. The main results from the analysis reveal that the socio-economic inequalities between families in Bulgaria have significant influence on health behaviors of school-children. Smoking is a wide-spread practice among students regardless of the socio-economic status of their families. Drinking and cannabis use are practiced more often among young people from families with high socio-economic status. Boys coming from families with low material status are more often involved in bullying at school. Bullying at school is more frequent among 13 years old students and decreases with age. From the students who have been bullied at school, bulling is more frequent among the children from families with high or low socio-economic status.
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Organic Agriculture and Commitment to Values in Bulgaria (2000-2013): Theoretical and Empirical Approximations

Petya Slavova

  • Page Range: 125-140
  • No. of Pages: 16
  • Keywords: organic agriculture; configurations of worths; commitment
  • Summary/Abstract: The article describes how the concept and practice of organic agriculture emerged in Bulgaria. While usually presented in relevant literature as a process of conversion or individual motivation, here it is discussed in terms of commitment to worths. The research approach focuses on social aspects of organic farming and thus allows drawing conclusions as to the sustainability of these agricultural practices over time. The analysis suggests that the practice of organic agriculture can be understood in terms of different configurations of worths established in the course of commitment to others and to the concept of the organic.
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The Bulgarian Populist Radical Right: Representatives, Origins, Ideology, Development and Prospects

Petar Cholakov

  • Page Range: 141-158
  • Keywords: populist radical right; political parties in Bulgaria; Bulgarian ethnic model
  • Summary/Abstract: In order to outline the prospects of the Bulgarian populist radical right (PRR), one must first examine the main stages in its development after 1989. The article traces the origin of this group of parties back to the first and the beginning of the second party systems. I do not underestimate the role of political cleavages in the birth of the PRR; however, I consider its genesis to be also related to the nature of the contemporary Bulgarian “ethnic model”. This approach better explains the influence of the ethnic cleavage. The article highlights the interconnections between the stages of development of the ethnic model and the PRR. I examine the electoral dynamics and the political messages of this party family. The effect both of competition and interaction between these formations and the moderate conservative parties is demonstrated. Tendencies in social distances are taken into account when considering the chances of success of ethnic entrepreneurs. On the basis of the analysis, a forecast is made about the political behavior and the future role of the PRR in the Bulgarian political system.
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