Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

Spread of Value Orientations among Political and Economic Elites in Serbia

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

Spread of Value Orientations among Political and Economic Elites in Serbia

Article excerpt

Abstract: The paper analyses findings of two surveys of value orientations spread among political and economic elites in Serbia, carried out in 1989 and 2003/04. The analysis is focused on two pairs of mutually conflicting orientations: political liberalism vs. authoritarian collectivism, and market liberalism vs. redistributive statism. The spread of these orientations in the two periods is analyzed in the first part of the paper, and it is concluded that liberal values were more present among members of political and economic elites in 2004 than it was the case in 1989. However, the change is not unequivocal and in some cases is smaller than expected. In the second part of the paper, the spread of value orientations among the elites in 2004 is analyzed more thoroughly, using larger sets of data. The findings show that political and economic elites in Serbia have not adopted liberal values as clearly dominant framework of orientation, even after pluralist democracy and market economy based on private ownership have been largely implemented and have been made legitimate principles of social regulation. Values of both groups are widely inconsistent and composed of mixture of liberal and collectivistic patterns. The value inconsistency may be found in the sphere of political and of economic subsystems, and it is equally characteristic of political and of economic elite, in both subsystems.

Keywords: Serbia, Yugoslavia, social stratification, elites, social change, postsocialist transformation

1. Introduction

Surveys of economic and political elites have not been made very often in Serbia. The first one, organized in late 1960s', was based mostly on ad hoc methodology (represented by a combination of open-ended interviews and unsystematic analysis of some structural data--on social origin, for example) and was not endowed with any developed theoretical framework. The study was published in English only, and was quoted very seldom in the works of Serbian sociologists (cf. Barton, Denitch and Kadushin, 1973). Later on, data on elites were collected as a part of general stratification surveys, based on proportionate samples, with the necessary consequence that members of higher strata were only marginally represented in these samples. Also structural and value characteristics of elites' members were not studied in detail. These characteristics were instead only sporadically included in the analyses of general relations among social strata (of the system of distribution of social wealth, power, and reputation; or of studies of value orientations; cf. Popovic, 1977; Popovic, 1991).

The reasons for the lack of interests for elite studies in Serbia are relatively clear. We can find them primarily in the low level of development of empirical sociological research in the country. Namely, it cannot be argued that studies of the ruling class in socialist Yugoslavia represented "forbidden territory", for the simple reason that a small number of such researches that were conducted were completed without serious obstacles from the authorities. A survey on political and economic elites was organized by me on the territory of former Yugoslavia (SFRY) at the end of the 1980s, as a part of a larger stratification research. The survey was successfully completed without any obstruction, even if it was done at a huge sample for this kind of research, consisting of 400 respondents (elites' members) in each of the six republics and two provinces (cf. Lazic, 1994). Contrary to the obvious public interest (confirmed, for example, by numerous media articles about "new riches" and new members of political elite), extremely small number of sociological surveys of new elites have been conducted, and moreover, empirical data that were collected in my surveys (1993, 1997, and 2003/04) have been only occasionally used (cf. Lazic, 1994; Lazic, ed. 1995; Lazic, 2000; Lazic and Cvejic, 2006).

It is quite clear that marginal research interest in the elites' studies (in Serbia and also in other postsocialist countries, since the time of the huge comparative survey, done by Szelenyi--cf. …

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