SBR-9515244 John Pickles U. Kentucky This project examines (sub-national) regional economic and political change in a society undergoing a shift from a command to market oriented economy, the southern Rhodope region in Bulgaria. This shift and its associated decentralization, demonopolization, and liberalization have brought to the subject region, like many peripheral regions in Central and Eastern Europe, withdrawal of industrial investment, decline in agriculture, and increasing social polarization. In the Rhodope, the social change has most negatively affected the large Turkish-speaking minority. The research project is focused on three forms of transition: (1) the democratization of local and national state power, new civil institutions, and the emergence of ethnic politics focused on the Turkish-speaking population; (2) decentralization of control over industry, regional restructuring of production, branch-plant closure, and mass unemployment; and (3) privatization of tobacco production and the effects of continued monopoly power in tobacco marketing. The three research questions are: (1) How have the economic changes affected support for ethnically based political parties and actors since 1989? (2) How has the rise of the Turkish-dominated political party affected the nature of regional economic change? (3) What roles do gender and ethnicity play in these changes, within households, manufacturing plants, and local politics? Working with Robert Begg of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Mueke Meurs of The American University (via subcontracts) and colleagues in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the University of Sofia, the PI will interview political and institutional leaders, industrial managers, and households, and will make use of secondary statistical data. The research results should have relevance for our increasing recognition of the causal linkages among economic, political, and social-identity (gender, ethnicity) change in local settings. The results s hould have relevance to other peripheral regions in rapidly changing counties of Central and Eastern Europe. The research itself will add to the English-language writing and expertise on this world region.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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Ngoc Linh Lam
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University of Kentucky
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