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Title: Ideology and utopia in social protests in Bulgaria : beyond the transition's 'liberal consensus'
Author: Stoyanova, Veronika
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 0748
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis offers a critical examination of political struggles in post-socialist (and post-transitional) Bulgaria. Through a focus on the protest mobilisations of 2013, and specifically on their internal antagonisms, it attempts to understand the dynamics of class and power on the terrain of civil society in the country more than twenty years after it began a 'transition' to liberal democracy and free market economy. To grasp these, it places a focus on their discourses, adopting a Critical Discourse Analysis approach to study the ways in which the language of the protests reflected and at the same time constructed specific power configurations. The theoretical framework it builds to understand the socio-political context of the protests draws on the social theory work of Antonio Gramsci and Ernst Bloch. The theoretical synthesis of their work on ideology and utopia, and its application to the political contestations in Bulgaria, enables this thesis to argue that the 2013 mobilisations were underpinned by a historical class struggle between a more conservative and a more radical line of contention. The latter was designed by and for subaltern groups whose anti-systemic programme called for not just the eradication of corruption, but for more participatory forms of democracy, for social justice, and for freedom from want. The former, on the other hand, was designed by large sections of the powerful group of intellectuals, for the middle classes, in whose imagined figure the intellectuals saw the historical strata capable of advancing the 'catch-up' projects of modernisation and Europeanisation which they zealously champion. In arguing for the significance of these insights, the thesis calls for more attention to be paid to class antagonisms in political mobilisations across the post-socialist region, as well as for a stronger theoretical focus on the intersection between ideological constructions and genuine utopian longings in studies of popular protest, since such a focus can help us better understand what propels many to enthusiastically support projects for social change which often fail to correspond to their own (class) interests.
Supervisor: Ray, Larry Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral