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    Meaning is Use: Civic Initiatives and Europeanisation from below in Bulgaria

    Kiryakova-Ryan, Dilyana (2018) Meaning is Use: Civic Initiatives and Europeanisation from below in Bulgaria. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    The research poses the question of how civic initiatives are constituted by and constitutive for the process of Europeanization in Bulgaria. Europeanization as a process, overlapping with democratization, was initiated in Bulgaria with EU support to build democracy and pluralism after the demise of Communism in 1989. The EU’s favoured mechanisms through which liberal democracy was to be embedded, although successful in establishing formal democratic institutions, could not substantially reach citizens and furnish the social base of democracy. The efforts to develop active civil society in Bulgaria remained limited to establishing an NGO sector, which could not truly reflect the meaning of civil society as constituted by actively engaged citizens mobilizing in defence of the common good. This situation was compounded by the continuation of a historically passive political culture in Bulgaria. The research explores the causal link between civic initiatives and Europe implied in the research question through adopting discourse as the key vehicle for developing the theoretical and analytical frameworks. Premised on the poststructuralist emphasis on meaning, Europeanization is theorized as a process of signification whereby democratic norms are fluid and dependent on the experience of people affected by them. The discourse of civic initiatives in Bulgaria is constituted by the liberal democratic norms of action (liberty) and multitude (equality), which they articulate in the hues of Dewey’s understanding of democracy as a way of life. As socially grounded practices they construct an alternative language of democracy around the tropes of moving and multiplying people, which point to a vision of social change captured by the domain of sociality. Unlike the hegemonic discourse of economic liberalism, the agency of civic initiatives draws on the socially grounded knowledge and creativity of individuals to realize the vision of sociality. Analysed as creative democracy they enact the democratic script in practice. In building social and cultural capital in Bulgaria they are engaged in nurturing social relations of cooperation, trust and participation thus constituting multiple spaces of civil society.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Meaning; Civic Initiatives; Europeanisation; Bulgaria;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
    Item ID: 13636
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2020 10:25
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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