Anomie in Bulgaria: The social integration crisis in post-socialist Bulgaria
The main aim of the present empirical survey is the study of social disintegration phenomena in Bulgaria after the breakdown of the former communist system in 1989. The realization of this goal was carried out in the framework of the anomie concept. Anomie is conceived here as a specific state of individuals, groups and societies manifesting itself in a crisis of values, norms and behavior patterns. This state of norm vacuum always characterizes a period during which the old norms, values and patterns lose their validity while the new ones are not yet formed and established. The completion of the survey's tasks required an analysis of the crisis of the old normative structure and institutions responsible for maintaining social integration and the instability of the new ones.
The more specific hypotheses have been connected to the social and group distribution of anomic manifestations: the individuals, groups and communities which are the most affected are the ones which have been most well socialized and integrated in the previous system, namely ruling strata, part of the intellectuals, state employees, less qualified workers and the majority of the senior citizens. We supposed the new political and economic institutions would be substantially unstable, the economic problems would frequently transform into political ones, democracy would be identified with the difficulties of transition to market economy, population would be increasingly susceptible to extreme and/or irrational doctrines. Together with the anomic manifestations, resulting from the specific Bulgarian mode of transition, other forms of organization of people could be found. They would be the real innovations both in the sphere of survival as well in the sphere of new communities' formation as nuclei of a new and more stable society.
One of our hypotheses has to do with the assumption of the lack of clear and legitimate subject of the post-communist transition. It is not by chance that almost half of the population is skeptic about government's ability to realize the officially proclaimed goals. At the same time the civil society is very passive, the prevailing position is that of indifference and apathy. Summing up, what is registered is a small and activist ruling elite and passive citizens.
The feeling of general life standard drop in the last 7-8 years is all encompassing; the vast majority of the population has difficulties or is completely unable to adapt to the new macro-economic environment. At the same time the immediate (micro-) environment for the greater part of the population is carrying out an important compensatory function. The household economy and the mutual aid between parents and children counters maladaptation resulting from the great macro-changes. Although the unsatisfaction the empirical data suggest, a slightly bigger dose of optimism about near Bulgarian future appears, which is based on the upcoming and accelerating reforms.
In our view this survey fulfilled its goal and presented the general picture of anomie in today's Bulgarian society. However, it does not present in most of the cases in full the separate specific problems. Because of its limited scope, the present report is confined only to the analysis of the empirical data and the statement of some basic conclusions. It does not provide a theoretical explanation of the anomic picture of today's Bulgarian society exempt some fragments which are necessary for empirical data understanding.
The Bulgarian study adapted the anomie scales developed in China to the specific conditions in Bulgaria. In difference to China the researchers faced the problem of the two-fold "non-transparency" of Bulgarian society:
The expected picture of acute and massive anomie because of massive social change in Bulgaria had to be complemented by a specific feature both of the present transitional society and the former socialism: the demarcation line which separates official and real, formal and informal. It proved to be difficult for the researchers to delineate with quantitative analyses alone the exact scope of the informal economic life. For this reason they decided to supplement the empirical survey with a theoretical analysis of the prerequisites and the causes of the registered anomic manifestations.
For the aims of the international comparative analysis (especially the results obtained in China) the Bulgarian researchers adopted a general scheme of four major anomie scales:
n Satisfaction/dissatisfaction on micro- and macro-level
n Trust/mistrust to institutions
n Alienation/integration on micro- and macro-level
n Social mobility, or the structure of social opportunities.
Together with these, other pairs of indicators (sub-scales) were used on a different level of universality, which reflect the specific features of Bulgarian reality:
n Adaptation/mal-adaptation to the changed circumstances of life
n Personal security or insecurity;
n Integration/disintegration in the family
n Confusion/clear-cut view of the world in which one lives
n Orientation towards strategies for survival or towards ones for gaining success.
These scales are directly linked to the socio-economic status of the respondents, and the obtained results justify the prognostication of certain managerial decisions.
The main hypothesis which initially guided our work has been the idea that Bulgaria is experiencing acute and mass anomie. The more specific hypotheses have been connected to the social and group distribution of anomic manifestations: the individuals, groups, and communities which are the most affected are the one which have been most well socialized and integrated in the previous system, namely the ruling strata, part of the intelligentsia, state employees, workers and the majority of the senior citizens. At the same time, the changes give rise to possibilities for social success to individuals and groups which have been marginal in the previous system.
We supposed the new political and economic institutions would be substantially unstable, the social and economic problems would frequently transform into political ones, democracy would be identified with the difficulties of transition to market economy, population would be increasingly susceptible to extreme and/or irrational doctrines, social-political development would be extensively unpredictable.
The opposite process of anomie is the one of the new integration and stabilization, which consists in the formation of new steady groups with clear-cut interests which are able to impose new norms, rules, authorities, language and values as a basis for the new social and moral order. It is not a coincidence that Durkheim speaks of and relies heavily on the new "professional groupings" as "nuclei" of the new order. This new order could establish itself either through the consensus of different conflicting interests and values, or through force.
Together with the anomic manifestations and consequences (resulting from the specific Bulgarian mode of transition to market economy and democracy), other forms of organization of people could be found which are real innovations - innovations not in the sphere of survival but in the sphere of new communities formation as nuclei of a new and more stable society. The research up until now on people's ideas of the democratic ideal, the socially controlled market, the President's ideal image and the other new institutions shows that Bulgarians are well aware what these institutions should be and where their proper place in these institutions is. This is understandable if we have in mind the fact that Bulgarian population as a whole was educated enough to comprehend and to follow socially meaningful and promising ideas. However, such ideas have not been offered except some quickly copied cliches from the liberal ideology.
One of our hypotheses has to do with the assumption of the lack of clear and legitimate subject of the post-Communist transition and, hence, the ambiguity and the confusion among the ordinary people. The main actors of Bulgarian transition have managed to only partially legitimize the "system's political change" and failed to legitimize the new social-economic order.
1. There are no overt or covert anti-system structures in respect to the democratic regime, the market economy (especially in its social version), and the new legal order. The superficial struggle of the main political and economic elite aims at gaining territories within the new order, not against it.
2. The predominant mass desires are for strengthening the democratic constitutional state, for clear-cut market rules and the empowerment of the legal system.
3. Together with the registered anomic manifestations some symptoms of a transitional form of overcoming the crisis can be discerned in Bulgaria.
4. The universally valid conclusion is that under forthcoming or present anomic change in Bulgaria the individuals, social groups and categories of people with the lowestsocial, material and educational status are most affected. These individuals and groups can vary in the different societies and cultures. In Bulgaria some (not all) minority groups prove to be more effected by anomic processes. In this case they are however not affected as minority groups by some form of discrimination, but as groups with lower social status.
The data are representative of the Bulgarian population in the age intervall of 18 to 70 years, or a total of 5.8 million people.
Standardized individual interview in person; an individual conversation with the subject. The interviewer read the question, waited to hear the subject' s answer and checked one of the alternatives.
The sample is a two-level stochastic cluster one. It is drawn from the election lists of the election sections; their total number for the country is 12.691; the sample includes 200 /1.6 % of the total number).
The first step of the sampling procedure included first the random stratified selection of 200 election sections. This guaranteed the representativeness of settlement' s size and the equal distribution on the country' s territory.
In the second step ten people were randomly selected on the election list of each election section. The list of every cluster contained six individuals for interviewing and four more to serve the function of a reserve if someone of the six could not be interviewd.
|Ethical approval||No||Study type||
|Start - End date||01.01.1994 - 28.12.1997|