Transformation Processes (FWF)

Transformation and Democratisation in the Balkans: Shaped by Tensions between Europeanisation and Building Nation-sates. A case study of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia

All three countries (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia) selected for this study are undergoing transformation towards a Western-oriented concept of liberal democracy (or "Europeanisation", standing for a normative "ad hoc acquis democratique"). When building theories of transformation and democratisation, scholars have largely neglected to consider the successor states of Yugoslavia (and their concrete conditions for democratisation). At the same time, regional studies of these countries fail to put their particular assumptions into the context of broad ongoing theoretical debates on transformation and democratisation. Therefore, this project funded by the FWF Austrian Science Fund aims to connect these two fields.

To achieve this connection between regional analyses and international theories, there must be a study of the conditions that hinder democratisation in these three states. The most important factor affecting democratisation results from the renegotiating of the framework of the nation-state in the 1990s; the resulting violence and wars brought the international community's unusually strong involvement in the internal development of the region's countries. Therefore, the second characteristic of the post-Yugoslav transformation process can be regarded as the intensive interaction of internal and external players that resulted in the great importance of "external support" for democratisation. Since 2000, the growing European Union (EU) interest in the region can be viewed as "Europeanisation" of the subject. As a result, the external guidelines and objective demands clashed with the internal players' subjective interests and led to a form of democratisation characterized by overly high expectations, hegemonic interests, deceptive manoeuvring, mutual misperceptions etc., that - as a third regional characteristic - has been hindering the democratisation process. Therefore, the conflict-laden communication process (the subjective dimension of democratisation) will be a focal point in the project's empirical studies.

Exemplary analysis of certain empirical and theoretical fields and the processes of democratic transition in the three countries will result in a general contribution to the ongoing transformation and democratisation theoretical debate. On the other hand, the project will improve insight into the political dynamics in the three countries by producing differentiated guidebooks and proposals for the optimal configuration of measures of external democracy promotion in a crisis- and conflict-ridden environment. This kind of evaluation tailored to the regional preconditions seeks to more adequately take into account the "subjective Europeanisation potential" of the region's societies.

Project Description PDF


footer