Bulgaria has repeatedly been ranked as 1 of the most pessimistic and unhappy nations in the world in surveys conducted over the last 15 years. The transition to a democratic form of government and a free market economy that began in 1989 has been difficult, even traumatic. Young urban adults who have grown up during this period of uncertainty were the focus of this study. Because of Bulgaria's extremely low birth rate and high rate of emigration, this generation is small in demographic terms, but their contribution to the country's future is critical.
The purpose of this grounded theory study was to explore and describe the sources of hope that enable these young Bulgarians to survive and cope. Data were gathered through focus group discussions that involved the viewing of a contemporary Bulgarian film. 3 major themes emerged from the focus group data: power, the nature goodness, and the act of believing (as opposed to belief in a supernatural or religious object). Analysis of these themes and an extensive review of available literature, including many local Bulgarian-language sources, led to the development of a theory of disempowerment as the best explanation of participants' perception their environment, themselves, and how they choose to cope. Participants' primary coping strategy is withdrawal. Because they are convinced that their environment is hostile and unjust and that they do not possess sufficient power to protect themselves, their primary source of hope is to avoid further loss through maintaining a limited number of close personal relationships, avoiding civic involvement, and utilizing the act of believing as a form of rationalization. Participants show virtually no interest in or reliance on religious faith, belief in supernatural power, or existential meaning as sources of hope for their lives.
Though the theory of disempowerment is helpful in describing and understanding participants' lives, the sources of hope identified are ineffectual. This study suggests potential paths of application for churches and Christian organizations and recommends further research concerning the form that the search for existential meaning may take in the Bulgarian context.
|Commitee:||Starcher, Richard, Steffen, Tom|
|Department:||Cook School of Intercultural Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 74/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Cultural anthropology, East European Studies|
|Keywords:||Bulgaria, Hope, Post-communism, Power, Qualitative research methods, Young adults|
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