(De)Constructing Homo Politicus: Evidence from Post-Communist World Under EU Integration Asymmetrical Relation
36 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2012
Date Written: February 7, 2012
This research deals with transformations of political identities under the influence of EU integration in a contemporary Balkan post-communist context; by this I mean entering and exiting the specific social domain of political action as a result of changed understanding that people make of their identities, individual and collective forces, limitations to understand social realities, and opportunities to change their lives. Beyond the Aristotelian vision of men as being natural political creatures, Machiavelli-inspired understanding of politics as strategic interaction, Tocquevillian image of politics as nets for social protection and Marxist idea of politics as superstructure for protecting and promoting economic interests hides a vast area where people also become involved or detached from politics despite their natural constitution and objective interests. They get in and out of the politics following logic that acts in coordination at different levels of analysis: intentions, motivations, beliefs, mentalities and attitudes. This combination of different levels, far from turning political identity into purely psychological phenomenon, requires a new analysis on the level of inter-subjective meaning.
This research, based on a paradigm both interpretative and constructivist, provides findings pertaining to the effects of EU integration on people in two post-communist countries in the Balkans. I take two cases, Bulgaria and Macedonia, as examples of states already within the Union and as examples of those still waiting to become members. I use qualitative methodology, mainly semi-directive in-depth interviews and non-participant ethnographic observations from three field trips to these countries between 2009 and 2011.
The findings confirm that these two political communities, far from being settled and static, are in a state of perpetual motion. Informants report moving into different directions regarding their place in politics as a direct result of European integration; through the process of inter-subjective understanding of this integration. People may become political or a-political, the same way as they may become more or less Bulgarian, or Macedonian, or European. These informants may become simultaneously more present in some aspects of political action, such as participation, and less present with others, such as social trust. These variations represent different cultural trajectories dynamically coexisting within national political community.
Keywords: EU, integration, post-communism, democratization, Bulgaria, Macedonia, interpretativism, constructivism
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