Alienated or “Sequestered” Institutions in Serbia

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Alienated or “Sequestered” Institutions in Serbia 

There are two kinds of views, provisionally named structural and everyday, which allow us to approach the phenomenon of weak and alienated institutions in contemporary Serbia. The structural usurpation of institutions produces the elite that assumes positions of executive branch of government in Serbia disabling realization of constitutive norms. The second view elaborates the phenomena, which we can name syndrome of institution’s powerlessness and cooptation in the eyes of citizens, articulated in the lack of citizen’s willingness to rely on institutional workings in multitude of everyday situation where such dependency could result in success. While the structural usurpation fits well within the broad degradation of liberal-democratic governance and transformation of Serbia into oligarchic society, the second, everyday dimension, in the eyes of citizens, forms part of wider phenomena of delegitimation of institutional order of Serbia. Almost the entire new history of parliamentarian democracy in Serbia (since the 1990s) has been marked by the executive branch’s tendencies to degrade the legislative branch, while in the last six years, in the phase of “speedy” (authoritarian) transition in Serbia, the process of partysation of the state is coming to its fulfillment. In that sense, the control of executive branch by the Serbian parliament, next to farcical practice of suggesting and justifying amendments to new laws, has been reduced to the questions of members of parliament (while other procedures, such as interpellation, are rarely used). In the complex state systems of public interest, such as health services, education, security and judiciary branch, the insights offered by experts are not recognized which results in the hasty public politics aimed at short-term gains within the electoral cycle framework. Citizens are less and less willing to resolve their problems institutionally and rely on the informal networks of solidarity (friends and blood “relations”). This leads us to a second understudied dimension of usurpation of institutions in Serbia, which we call “syndrome of hypertrophy perception” of powerless institutions in reciprocal relation with structural dimension. Such self-fulfilling prophecy entails that not-yet finished process of structural cooptation of institutions ends in a growing perception that institutions have been completely “sequestered”, completely powerless and unprepared to function in public interest. The more important reason for syndrome of hypertrophy perception should be sought the in strategic decision of partocracy that the representation of powerlessness of institutions in the public eyes overaccentuates its objective power so that the governing political parties could become the only mechanism for citizen’s everyday problems, and abandon any kind of institutional control of autocratic power of the elites. Such a planned “forgetting of institutions” represents the crucial mark in closing of circulus vitiosus where the powerful elites, or the governing political parties, deprive institutions of public interest while citizens by abandoning its supposed inefficiency really abandon control of the whole public sphere. With this edited volume we wish to offer a systematic insight into the phenomenon of sequestered institutions as well as to open up discussion on different modalities of creating a renewed trust in citizens of institutional patterns of social acting.


Information for authors

Deadline for article outline (up to 3000 words) is February 15th 2019.

We suggest you use the publishing guidlines from the journal Filozofija i društvo

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Accepted authors will be invited to present their work at the one-day symposium on February 27th at the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory.

The final version of the article is due March 15th 2019. Articles will be published in the following volume Alienated or “Sequestered” Institutions in Serbia  by the end of March.

The edited volume is published within the project Alienated or “Sequestered” Institutions in Serbia  conducted by the Institute for Philosphy and Social Theory and Center for Ethics, Law and Applied Philosphy with support of Open Society Foundation.