From Revolution to Referendum: Processes of Institutionalization and Practices of Contestation in Post-Socialist Civil Society Building, 1989-2006
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At the intersection of civil society studies and contentious politics research lies an opportunity to better understand the development of civil society through contentious practices. Drawing on a diverse body of work in sociology, as well as these two interdisciplinary fields, I use contentious practices as the unit of analysis to examine how post-socialist civil society in Montenegro was built "from below" during its post-socialist transition from 1989 to 2006. I focus on how three processes of institutionalization that characterized this period democratization of the polity, privatization of the economy, and NGO-ization of civil society affected practices of contestation, and how such practices impinged on these processes. By using Protest Event Analysis to investigate how top-down (formal) processes of institutionalization and bottom-up (informal) practices of contestation interacted in civil society building in Montenegro, I achieve two objectives: firstly, illuminating the empirical reality of the post-socialist space of Montenegro through analysis of actually existing forms of contentious practices through which citizens articulated their grievances, voiced their demands, advanced their claims, and (re-)affirmed their identities; and secondly, analyzing how and to what extent forms, dynamics, sites, scales, and content of contentious practices were affected by elite-driven (formal) macro-processes and, conversely, how these processes were influenced by citizens through civil resistance, social activism, popular politics, and other forms of unconventional participation. Much of the existing literature points to the role of static structures in causing a socially passive, politically apathetic, and civically disengaged post-socialist civil society in Montenegro. In contrast, my findings demonstrate how both the decrease and depoliticization of contentious practices were consequences of dynamic (macro-)processual factors. Furthermore, my findings challenge very idea of Montenegro as a paradigmatic example of the "weak post-socialist civil society" at the European semi-periphery that needed to "catch up" to its Western neighbours. Instead, this dissertation argues that Montenegrin post-socialist civil society was not weak and that it significantly influenced the democratization processes in the country.