Bulgarian sports policy in the 20th century : a strategic relations perspective
More specifically, it seeks to examine the making of sports policy as a field of state activity and as a process involving various projects, agents and transformations, by uncovering the underlying structures and relations in the national sports policy context. The research is informed by the premises of the Strategic Relations Approach as developed by Jessop (1990), while critical theory provides the link between the theoretical foundations and the interpretation of data. This task demands an analysis which can account for the political, social and economic environments in which sports policy is made, and also for the structures and actors involved. In doing so, the thesis challenges both the traditional Marxist approach to the state, and some of the Jessopian claims about interests, strategies and global influences on policy making. The history of the modem Bulgarian state is marked by three major transformations, and the advancement of three distinct projects - Capitalism, Communism and Europeanisation - each aiming to establish a new stateness. Subsequently, it is argued that sports policy is a strategic relation, the formation of which needs to be viewed within state-society relations at particular historical conjuncture. Furthermore, this relation constitutes a process of past and present struggles, the outcomes of which are uncertain. The study draws several conclusions regarding strategic relations in sport policy making by highlighting: the relations between state projects and sports projects; the forms of state intervention in sport in various socio-political environments; the constitution of power in sports policy and state-society interactions; and the role of transnational and local forces in shaping sports policy (e.g. international sports federations and the IOC). The conceptualising and operationalising of Strategic Relations allows for three overriding tendencies pertinent to Bulgaria's sport policy to be outlined - of continuity, statisation and incongruity. One aspect of this study of theoretical interest in that, so far as can be ascertained, it is the first time that the Strategic Relations approach has been applied to a Communist state.