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INFORM London inaugural workshop

2016-09-28 – 2016-09-30

INFORM inaugural workshop

Venue: UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
16 Taviton Street London WC1H 0BW (Bloomsbury Campus - see UCL Maps) fourth floor, Classrooms 431 & 433

Southeast Europe has seen a century of continuous transformation and “transition” – the disappearance and emergence of states, political and legal systems, ideologies, institutions, and social classes. This has been accompanied by a stability of social practices resistant to change. Shaken by radically changing ideological and legal structures, citizens rely on customary and informal social networks of kin, symbolic kin, and friends for meeting economic needs, and on clan- or kin-related structures rather than the rule of law for security and protection. We trace the persistence of informal practices to: 1) the external origin of major transformations, including the “transitions” to and from socialism; 2) the incomplete character of change, which has tended to be replaced by equally radical but diametrically opposed projects; 3) the development of a buffer culture based on informal practices, directed to enabling people to survive under unstable conditions; and 4) the widening gap between formal institutions and informal social practices.

The distance between proclaimed goals and existing practices represents the key challenge to the European integration of Balkan societies. The integration process could end with superficial change, behind which the ""real"" social life of corruption, clientelism, tension, inequality, and exclusion will continue to unfold. We propose to explicate the key formal and informal “rules of the game”, and to identify and decipher the ""unwritten rules"" which underpin tactical maneuvering between formal and informal institutions, in various spheres and at various levels of social life. These would then be compared to the demands and recommendations laid out in the key EU documents outlining expectations from Southeast European states. The goal is to contribute to the formulation of policy recommendations which would aim not to eradicate informal practices, but to close the gap between formal and informal institutions in Balkan societies.

Participant institutions: University College London (UK), Institut za Etnologiju I Folkloristiku (Croatia), University of Maribor (Slovenia), Center for Intradisciplinary Applied Social Research (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Center for Emprical Cultural Studies of Southeast Europe (Serbia), Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” Skopje (Macedonia), Qendra e Kerkimive Historike dhe Antropologjike (Albania), Social Research Kosovo (Kosovo), Rigas Stradina Universitate (Latvia)


Location: London

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