The Socialist “Middle Class” Revisited: Consumption-Based Class Distinctions in Four Post-Yugoslav Countries

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:30
Location: Hörsaal 30 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Mirko PETRIC, Department of Sociology, University of Zadar, Croatia
Inga TOMIC KOLUDROVIC, Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Croatia
Predrag CVETICANIN, Faculty of Sports and Tourism, TIMS, Novi Sad, Serbia
During the entire existence of the socialist Yugoslavia (1945-1990), the ruling nomenclature insisted on the one-class character of Yugoslav society. The working class, later restyled into “working people” in the official terminology, was ideally meant to encompass all the actors of the legitimate social world in the country. Only towards the very end of the socialist system in Yugoslavia (i.e. in the late 1980s), some social theorists started to openly speak about Yugoslav society in terms of a class society, which also included a middle class.

This paper attempts to map and assess the evolvement of such a socialist “middle class” in the conditions of the postsocialist transition, with special attention devoted to the consumption-based class distinctions in the field of cultural practices. The interpretation is based on the results of a survey undertaken within the project “Life-Strategies and Survival Strategies of Households and Individuals in South-East European Societies in the Times of Crisis” on a national proportional multistage random sample of 3906 respondents in four post-Yugoslav countries (1000 in Croatia, 1000 in Serbia, 1002 in Bosnia-Herzegovina and 904 in Slovenia). The questionnaire included the relevant data for three generations in the family of the respondent. Multiple Correspondence Analysis was used to produce maps of the social space in the respective societies, and relate various social positions to the consumption styles in the post-2008 crisis context. Different levels of cultural participation, as well as orientation towards global or local cultural consumption, have proved to be important and reliable indicators of class distinctions.