Civil Society in Bulgaria: NGOs versus Spontaneous Civic Activism?
Bulgarian Report for the Study: Has our dream come true?
Автор(и) : Assoc. Prof. Petya Kabakchieva, Desislava Hristova Kurzydlowski
Издател : Open Society Institute - Sofia
Място на издаване : Sofia, Bulgaria
Година на издаване : 2012
ISBN : 978-954-2933-19-9
Брой страници : 87
Език : английски
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This text presents the results from a comparative research of seven CEE countries, entitled “Has our Dream become true” (2009-2011). The research was funded by Trust for Civil Society in CEE and organised and co-ordinated by Civil Europe Association, Hungary.
● This study provides a comprehensive review of the state of civil society in Bulgaria as a derivative of the embeddedness of advocacy function within the citizens. It presents an overview of the various notions and concepts of civil society in the beginning of the 1990s, its faltering development, challenges, achievements and current state.
● The text is divided in three sections, each depicting a specific part of the puzzle: from providing background of the recent research (through an overview of the dream of civil society), its concepts and historical development then focusing on the state of affairs at present, legal background, challenges in numbers, impact and funding. Then the study presents and analyses in detail the results of a representative quantitative survey of public attitude towards civil society organizations (CSOs) in Bulgaria, as well as of qualitative research of representatives of those organizations in order to shape the present state of development and provide some overall prognosis on the future of civil society in its advocacy function in Bulgaria.
● The dream of civil society in Bulgaria has been abstract, with primarily political implications and thus was not sustained as a civil project. This lead to citizens’ alienation and low trust in civil society combined with low level of participation. Furthermore, NGOs do not manage to fully embody the concept of civil society and to channel citizens’ needs and demands, which is conducive to their problematic embeddedness. On the other hand, spontaneous grass-root movements appear in the civil society arena in Bulgaria able to mobilise civic participation and influence policy changes.
● The most serious problems NGOs need to address refer to their dependency on state financing, lack of embeddedness and inconsistent institutional frame they are working in.
● The most embedded areas for advocacy are children’s rights, rights of disabled, citizens’ security, social policy, healthcare and education, environment. There are successful examples of campaigns in these areas. Further efforts to facilitate CSOs-citizens communication in these sectors are necessary.
● There are two trends that characterise the perspective in civil society development in Bulgaria: of changing NGOs and maturing grass-root activism. The former will act more and more as state allies, the latter – as critical opponents of the state and advocacy activists.
● This study claims that regardless of the seemingly low level of citizens’ involvement in the institutional settings of civil society in Bulgaria, there is a trend in raising civic activism and sustaining participation when personal motivation is at stake. There is a shift from massive political campaigns in the beginning of the 1990s to smaller-scale private causes, sparked by personal interest and bonding small groups together, who act as civil actors.
Assoc. Prof. Petya Kabakchieva
Assoc. Prof. Petya Liubomirova Kabakchieva studied sociology at the University of Sofia (Bulgaria) and finished her doctorate with a thesis entitled "Politische Macht und Eliten" (‘Political Power and Political Elites’). Today she is an assistant professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of Sofia. She has received several research grants (among others, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Institut für Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna in 2002) and completed several studies on the socio-political situation in Bulgaria financed by international organizations, such as NATO, the UNDP and the World Bank. Worth mentioning are the projects "Europe in the Mirror of Bulgarian Political and Expert Discourse” (Sofia University 2001) and "After the Accession – Economic and Social Culture in east-central Europe: Are They EU Compatible?” (2002). Kabakchieva’s social- and political-science interests are chiefly applied to post-communist Bulgarian society, their institutions and discourses. In her teaching and research she is concerned with questions and problems of social regulation, social classification, civil society, the European processes of civilization and dispute settlement, as well as the culture and politics of identity. Of special importance, perhaps, is her case study "Civil Society vs. State: The Bulgarian Case” (2001). In her current research the question as to how far the European Union functions as a substitute for the nation-state predominates, as well as the debate about local history and regional identity. In the context of the project "The Post-Communist Condition,” she will be analyzing, jointly with Iva Kyumdgieva, the restrictions currently facing the Bulgarian artist and the effects they have upon artistic creation.
Desislava Hristova Kurzydlowski
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