Bulgarians - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Village social organization was built around the household and the network of connections Between households based on kin relations and socioeconomic cooperation. Connections with neighbors were particularly significant in this network. In the presocialist era neighborhoods were the basis of labor-sharing groups and informal Socializing. After collectivization, cooperative brigades were also organized on the basis of neighborhood. Social stratification was minimal as the vast majority of village households were smallholding proprietors. The major social divisions were between agriculturalists, the village artisans, and the intelligentsia; the last group included the mayor, the doctor, the priest, and schoolteachers. The few households with larger landholdings had higher status, but this situation was reversed after World War II when large holdings were expropriated and wealth became a target of punitive political action. Subsequently, the advantages and power associated with Political positions controlled by the Communist party were the primary basis of village differentiation. Other associations important in the village in the Socialist era were the Communist Youth League and the Fatherland Front.

Political Organization. The Ottomans allowed villages to administer much of their own affairs, usually through a Council of household heads. In the years following independence, the state administered local villages by appointing mayors who maintained law and order and acted as local judges. Since World War II, the Communist party has dominated local political organization through the appointment of mayors and party secretaries who follow the directions of higher party organs. In addition to the village leaders there is a local Communist party organization of all village party members and a village council with appointed representatives from each neighborhood. There is also an Agrarian party organization in most villages, though until 1989 it followed Communist party policy. In 1988 multicandidate elections for local administrators were held. In 1990 the constitutionally guaranteed political monopoly of the Communist party was abolished and a multiparty national parliament was democratically elected. Multiparty local elections were held in 1991. Social Control. Traditionally the mayor, the village policeman, and the priest were the main forces of social control. Gossip and the threat of ostracism, however, were more important and ensured that formal sanctions were seldom needed. Major conflicts usually involved disputes between two parties to a financial transaction or disputes between Siblings over the division of the inheritance. Such disputes Divided not only the families involved but other related families as well. Even after the conflict was legally resolved, the family units often remained estranged. With collectivization the Inheritance of land became less important, though the division of other resources sometimes still causes conflicts. Most conflicts are resolved by the village leaders.

Conflict. Bulgarians do not have any major conflicts with other groups, although relations with Gypsies and Turks are sometimes strained. Gypsies are stereotyped as lazy and dishonest, so they are obvious scapegoats when there is theft in the community or problems at places where they work. Conflicts with Turks can be traced in large part to the government's attempt to assimilate them by restricting the use of the Turkish language and forcing Turks to change their names to Bulgarian names. Such conflicts are primarily restricted to those regions where Turks predominate.

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