"There's nothing anyone can do about It": participation, apathy, and "successful" democratic transition in postsocialist Serbia

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Abstract

This article investigates nonparticipation in politics as a rich set of moral, political, and cultural engagements. Contrary to the idea of apathy as an absence of political and social progress, Jessica Greenberg argues that nonparticipation can be an expression of complex and sophisticated responses to changing sociopolitical contexts. Greenberg also examines how such responses are affected by the global deployment of normative models of democratic success and failure. Starting with both policy and academic discourse about civic participation and popular Serbian narratives about politics and European belonging, Greenberg integrates the ethnographic material from her fieldwork in Serbia to illuminate the context in which such ideas reinforce understandings of democratic policies as elitist, corrupt, morally suspect, and disempowering. In conclusion, she suggests that researchers and practitioners should interrogate their own roles in creating and deploying frameworks for political success and failure and the impact these frameworks have on the lived experience of democracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-64
Number of pages24
JournalSlavic Review
Volume69
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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