This essay offers a critical analysis of the changing images of women in Bulgarian advertising during socialism and in the process of the post-socialist transition. During socialism, images of women, dressed in white lab coats, wearing construction hats, and lacking any sense of sexuality were on prominent display, created the most visually recognizable and ubiquitous symbols of communism—the frumpy babushka. Today, the babushka is an image of the past as Eastern European women have adopted a new highly sexualized identity. Advertising, which boomed during the transition, has become the primary cultural arena for the social engineering of a new, highly sexualized identity, quickly becoming a “normalized” trend in Eastern Europe with potentially dangerous consequences.
In recent post-Yugoslav cinema, trope of troubled youth in films as diverse as Skinning (Stevan Filipović, 2010, Serbia), Children of Sarajevo (Aida Begić, 2012, Bosnia-Herzegovina), Spots (Aldo Tardozzi, 2011, Croatia) and Quit Staring at My Plate (Hana Jušić, 2017) allows for an inspection of the links between youth rebellion, post-conflict trauma and social class. These cinematic depictions of youth-in-crisis, which I refer to as transitional films, offer insights into locally produced ethno-national identities as challenged by the proliferating transnational networks of connectivity. In this essay, I highlight one provocative example of transitional film – Clip (Maja Miloš, 2012, Serbia).
This paper debates the crisis of democracy and the importance of civil society in bringing forth new, participatory models of democracy. This is demonstrated in the case of Croatia following the results of the local elections in the spring of 2013 when five newly founded political parties, which shared strong ties to civil society, saw success. Building on the existing literature on the crisis of democracy, the authors argue that the low level of trust in political parties is not sufficient for explaining this phenomenon. Seeking to provide a more comprehensive solution, the authors introduce the factor of motivation by analysing the failures of CSOs in establishing a dialogue with the government, as well as the structural features of CSOs, thereby establishing a link between the macro and micro level of analysis.