Dobrinka Parusheva, born in Dimitrovgrad, Bulgaria, in 1960. Ph.D. from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia. Research Fellow at the Institute of Balkan Studies, Sofia.
Mellon Fellow (1 September 2000 – 31 January 2001)
During my five-month stay at NIAS I finished a draft of the last chapter of a book on the political culture in the Balkans in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The concept of political culture is, like most concepts in the social sciences, a polysemous one. In my essay, political culture is considered to be the complex set of orientations and discourses that actors use while trying to account for, make sense of, or legitimise/delegitimise prevailing political arrangements. My perspective is both historical and comparative. The research aims to stress the national differences and common regional features of Balkan political culture(s). Four Balkan countries are involved: Bulgaria, Greece, Rumania and Serbia. In the nineteenth-century Balkan states, people were quite aware of what an integrated modern state should be, and this awareness resulted in the leading strata consciously taking shortcuts to reach this goal more quickly, mainly by utilising the legislative and organisational techniques of much more advanced states. A gap between theory and practice is an unavoidable feature of any polity; but the gap is particularly wide in political systems like in the Balkans, in which vocabularies imported from the West are used to conceal and/or legitimise institutional arrangements that are a far cry from the political modernity seen in Western European parliamentary regimes. It was this gap between Westernised institutions and traditional social structures, behaviour and mentalities, which could not be filled. The result was a political culture that did not contribute to stable democratic values and institutions. To use the jargon of the theorists, there was too much of an affective political culture and too little of a cognitive and evaluative political culture. This statement could be maintained for all four Balkan countries, and I claim one should consider the existence of a common regional type of political culture.