Cover image for The Culture of Power in Serbia: Nationalism and the Destruction of Alternatives By Eric D. Gordy

The Culture of Power in Serbia

Nationalism and the Destruction of Alternatives

Eric D. Gordy

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$35.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-01958-1

240 pages
6" × 9"
9 b&w illustrations
1999

Post-Communist Cultural Studies

The Culture of Power in Serbia

Nationalism and the Destruction of Alternatives

Eric D. Gordy

“An original and important addition to the literature on post-Communist transformations. Gordy presents a detailed political sociology of the region which is grounded in a knowledge of the language and relevant sources. His work is timely and will reach a wide audience interested both in Serbia and in the political and cultural sociology of nationalism, authoritarianism, and aesthetic life.”

 

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How does the regime of Slobodan Milošević and his Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) remain in power? Since legitimizing its power in 1990, the SPS has never received a majority of votes in an election. Furthermore, it has been defeated in three military conflicts, produced more than 500,000 refugees, presided over the most extreme hyperinflation in modern times, and failed in its original defining promise to see "all Serbs in one state." In The Culture of Power in Serbia, Eric Gordy explores how the Milošević government prolongs its tenure despite failures and setbacks that would have brought down most other regimes.

Gordy finds the answer in everyday life. The Milošević regime has largely succeeded in making alternatives to its rule unavailable. By controlling key aspects of daily life, including politics, media, and popular music, it has undermined opposition by closing off alternative voices. The result is an atmosphere in which people feel they have lost control over their private life and cultural environment.

Nevertheless, Gordy finds reason to be optimistic about the long-term prospects for Serbia. The regime's forays into popular music have largely failed, and it has had only partial success in controlling the media, suggesting that the present strategy will not work forever. In Gordy's judgment, the Milošević regime has a limited future.

The Culture of Power in Serbia provides fresh perspective for readers interested in contemporary Eastern Europe, in the strategies and tactics of authoritarian regimes, in the sociology of everyday life, and in the political potential of culture.

“An original and important addition to the literature on post-Communist transformations. Gordy presents a detailed political sociology of the region which is grounded in a knowledge of the language and relevant sources. His work is timely and will reach a wide audience interested both in Serbia and in the political and cultural sociology of nationalism, authoritarianism, and aesthetic life.”
“This book presents a very original and informative approach to the study of the social base and social policy of Milošević’s regime, and goes a long way to explain why Milošević has been so resilient. I recommend it highly to those interested in the politics of transition from communism to ‘post-Communism,’ or in the ways authoritarian regimes maintain power. Students of Balkans will find this work indispensable.”

Eric Gordy is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Clark University. His articles have been published in the journals Problems of Post-Communism, Popular Music, and Pacific News Service.

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