“They don’t work with people”. The authorities and civil society in contemporary Serbia

„Oni nie współpracują z ludźmi”. Władza a społeczeństwo obywatelskie we współczesnej Serbii

Agnieszka Ziętek

ORCID: Agnieszka Ziętek: 0000-0002-1590-3064

Afiliacja: Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland

Pages: 187-203

Edition: Lublin 2022

DOI: https://doi.org/10.36874/RIESW.2022.2.11

Citation method: A. Ziętek, “They don’t work with people”. The authorities and civil society in contemporary Serbia, „Rocznik Instytutu Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej” 20(2022), z. 2, s. 187-203, DOI: https://doi.org/10.36874/RIESW.2022.2.11.

Keywords: , , ,

Abstract: The article discusses the condition of civil society in contemporary Serbia, with special emphasis on the relations between its representatives and the authorities (both at the local and state level). The main objective of the analyses is to answer the question of the position of the civil sector within Serbia’s broadly understood political system. What role do both formal non-governmental organizations and grassroots non-institutionalized social movements play in this relatively young democracy? What is the attitude of the authorities to grassroots civil activities, which often manifest criticism towards the decisions and actions of those in power? These questions will constitute the central axis of my considerations in this article. The research problem indicated above is analysed on two essential levels. Firstly, the article discusses existing studies and research on the nature of civil society in Serbia and the ways in which it functions. Secondly, the author analyses the results of qualitative research carried out at the late 2018 and early 2019 among representatives of Serbian civil movements and organizations. The conclusions stemming from these analyses are presented in the final part of the article. The analyses carried out indicate the problems that face the civil sector in Serbia. First and foremost, one should draw attention to the authorities’ rather negative view of the civil sector. What is also noteworthy is an extended network of connections of the authorities with the private sector as well as with right-wing, nationalist, pro-government organizations. These circumstances to a large extent hinder or even preclude dialogue (and further cooperation) between public and civil institutions.


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