Françoise Daucé

Collective mobilizations in post-Soviet Russia constitute an enigma for Western political sociology due to their numerical weakness and their incapacity to strengthen democratic practices in the country. This perplexity can be explained by the unsuitability of the research tools used for their study. Academic research on social mobilization has long been based primarily on postulates concerning the modernization of social movements in a economically and politically liberal context. Western and Russian leaders involved in the transition process demonstrated a will to foster the constitution of organizations independent from the State and the creation of a civil society as an opposition force. In the early 90’s, the practices of voluntary organizations in Russia became closer to Western ones. Notions such as “associative entrepreneurship”, “professionalization” or “frustration” were shared by Russian movements. However, later evolutions showed the unsuitability of these concepts to understanding the full complexity of these movements. That is why this issue of “Research in question” aims to suggest new theoretical perspectives for studying associations in Russia. These are at the crossroads of various grammars, where civic and liberal principles are combined with domestic and patriotic preoccupations. This complexity, which resists a purely liberal vision of social organizations, draws convergent criticisms against their action. In order to investigate this complexity of practices as well as criticisms, the tools produced by a pragmatic and multiculturalist sociology are useful to show the diversity of social and political bonds that link militants in contemporary Russia.

Renéo Lukic et Jean-François Morel

In contrast to most of Eastern and Central European countries that underwent their post-communist transition peacefully, Croatia had to undergo its transition during wartime. The outbreak of the Serbo-Croatian war in Spring 1991 forced Croatia to build rapidly an army to protect its territory. However, at this time, Croatia was an emerging democracy and after the European Community recognised its independence on January 15, 1992, the parliamentary institutions were unable to exert their authority over the Croatian army (Hrvatska vojska, HV). The Croatian President, Franjo Tudjman, and the political party he presided, the HDZ, dominated the HV by way of political penetration. Tudjman, who led Croatia to independence, benefited from a triple legitimacy (political, constitutional and charismatic) that allowed him to exert his power over the HV, much the same as the legitimacy Josip Broz-Tito enjoyed over the Yugoslav National Army in Communist Yugoslavia. The result is that the civil-military regime in Croatia after 1990 suffered from a democratic deficit. After the death of President Franjo Tudjman in December 1999 and the change of majority in the January-February 2000 elections, the new Croatian leadership, particularly President Stjepan Mesic, tried to establish democratic control over the armed forces. However, this aim clashed with the opposition of the Ministry of Defense and of numerous officers still committed to the HDZ. For these reasons, a democratic civil-military regime in Croatia is not yet a reality. However, Croatia has made some progress toward the establishment of a democratic civil-military regime. By trying to join some international organizations (NATO), or by being compelled to cooperate with others (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY), Croatia is now in the process of interiorizing the norms concerning the civilian and democratic control of the armed forces upon which these organizations are based. Being a member of the Partnership for Peace (PfP), and wishing to join as soon as possible NATO's Membership Action Plan (MAP), Croatia is obliged to move in this direction.

Anastassios Anastassiadis

This article addresses the sensitive question of Church-State relations in Greece. Recent studies have suggested that the Greek Church’s discourse was plainly incompatible with modern conceptions of liberal democracy. Populism and nationalism have been the two theoretical concepts used in relation with the Church. Discourse analysis based on public declarations of Church officials has been the main methodological tool. The Greek identity cards’ crisis of the nineties has been its testing ground. Through an analysis of this “crisis” this article intends to show that these methods can offer only very limited perspectives of understanding the process for two main reasons. First, they show little interest for sociological analysis and especially for the internal functioning of the Church. Second, discourses are one outcome of the actors’ strategies but have to be deciphered and not taken for granted. Analysts disregard one of the main presuppositions of semantics theory: discourses are produced within a specific socio-historical context and according to certain prefabricated schemes. This dual pattern of production allows for continuity as well as for change. Thus, this article also argues that a Church¹s conservative discourse may be closely related to the efforts of certain actors within this institution to renovate it. While refuting the “clash of civilizations” thesis, this article finally intends to suggest that the renewed interest for religion in general and orthodoxy in particular due to this thesis should be put to use by researchers in order to acquire new and more comprehensive socio-historical accounts of the Greek Church.

Myriam Désert

What are the roots of the informal sector and what effects does it have? Is it a blessing or a curse? Changes in post-Soviet Russia contribute new food for thought to a debate that had previously been nourished primarily by considerations on the situation in developing countries. In Russia can be observed processes of formalization - and “deformalization” – of the rules governing not only the practices of economic actors, but also in the rarified distribution of public services publics. The analysis of actual informal practices feeds thinking about the relations between economic and political changes: what impact do they have in setting up a market economy and the rule of law, and in the reconfiguration of both the economic and social arena? An investigation into the way Russian academic circles and social actors view the informal sector sheds light on the various behavioral determinant: reaction to the economic context, cultural roots, social beliefs, and so on. The case of Russia illustrates how the informal sector is not only a mode of action that circumvents legal guidelines, but also a mode of sociability that rejects anonymous social relations. It helps examine ways to reinject the social aspect into economics

A rather marginal theme in Eastern European studies before the end of communism, ethnic politics and minority policies in Central and South-East Europe have given birth to a very rich body of literature in the 1990s. Some analyses have been influenced by the so-called “transitology” paradigm; others have borrowed from ethnic conflict studies. In both cases, though, ethnocultural diversity has mostly been treated in a normative way and portrayed as an obstacle to democratization. As for ethnic parties, they have alternatively been presented as conducive to better political participation and integration for the minorities (in a multiculturalist perspective) or as a threat to state stability and to democracy. Regardless of these cleavages, most research on ethnic identifications and on their mobilization in politics has been grounded upon substantial definitions of ethnic “groups” and has reified differences between “generalist” and “ethnic” parties. The present comparison between the trajectory of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MFR, which represents the interests of the Turks and other Muslims in Bulgaria) and that of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (DAHR, representing the Hungarian population) departs from these approaches in two ways. First, it emphasizes the centrality of the sociology of collective action to understanding the politicization of ethnicity, while insisting on the need to trace the particular historical processes through which ethnicity has been constructed and politicized in every single case. Second, attention is brought to the role the social imaginary plays in shaping the strategies of social and political actors. To put it otherwise, we argue that identities are not exogenous to politicization processes; they are redefined, renegotiated and reappropriated as social actors invest the political field. “Ethnic parties” are in urgent need of deexoticization: Like most parties, they cannot elude the traditional dilemmas of political representation, in particular the need to be perceived as both responsive and accountable.