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Speaker(s): Dr James Dawson
Chair: Dr James Ker-Lindsay

Recorded on 7 October 2014 at Cañada Blanch Room, Cowdray House

Before beginning work on the book presented in this lecture, Dr James Dawson published survey and ethnographic research exploring political identities in an ethnically-mixed town in southern Bulgaria.

The main finding of this comparative ethnographic project is that the Serbian public sphere is considerably more contested, pluralist and (at the margins) liberal than its Bulgaria counterpart. This demonstrates that the progress of Post-Socialist states in implementing liberal democratic institutions to the satisfaction of the European Union is not a reliable guide for ascertaining whether or not liberal democratic ideals have taken root in those societies. At a time when several formerly socialist EU member states are increasingly attracting scholarly attention for the rise to power of illiberal and sometimes plainly anti-democratic political movements (Hungary, Romania), this kind of analytical focus on ideas and identities could help to explain why institutional progress has not necessarily led to the formation of liberal democratic publics.

Dr James Dawson has worked at UCL School of Public Policy since 2013 and currently serves as acting Director of MSc Democracy and Comparative Politics.

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