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Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

SEIZING THE FUTURE: A COMPARATIVE ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDY OF EXPECTATIONS OF THE FUTURE IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
6.03.02  Humanities  Anthropology  Social and cultural anthropology 

Code Science Field
S220  Social sciences  Cultural anthropology, ethnology 

Code Science Field
5.04  Social Sciences  Sociology 
Keywords
Expectations, visions of the future, social entrepreneurship, southeast Europe, narratives of crises, practical and affective strategies of planning.
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (6)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  22570  PhD Nataša Gregorič Bon  Humanities  Researcher  2016 - 2018  175 
2.  33016  PhD Ana Jelnikar  Humanities  Researcher  2016 - 2018  263 
3.  30648  PhD Miha Kozorog  Anthropology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  292 
4.  33466  PhD Maja Petrović-Šteger  Humanities  Head  2016 - 2018  141 
5.  15116  PhD Borut Telban  Anthropology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  425 
6.  24464  PhD Nina Vodopivec  Historiography  Researcher  2016 - 2018  236 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0501  Institute for Contemporary History  Ljubljana  5057116000  6,083 
2.  0581  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts  Ljubljana  1627058  98,924 
3.  0618  Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts  Ljubljana  5105498000  63,162 
Abstract
How do people living in precarious times view their future? How do they imagine, invoke and plan their next steps? How can they deal with what does not yet exist? The project proposes a scheme of comparative anthropological research that considers these questions through studying the practical and emotional investments of a range of Serbs, Albanians and Slovenians. All these people use feelings and perceptions as ways of ordering the present and seeking to bring the future into being. In attending to how people make claims on the future through various forms of expectation, the research hopes to offer an anthropological perspective on how an entrepreneurial mindset, even personality, can thrive in situations of upheaval. Our main objective is to investigate how the future in these three sites is viewed, planned for and managed, in particular by social entrepreneurs. We define ‘social entrepreneurs’ both as people who describe themselves as such and as those recognised by others as able to innovate in response to pressing social problems (i.e., of marginality, poverty, discrimination, the threat of urban growth/exclusion). Our respondents will include a range of actors across the region: young and experienced strategists, state resource allocators, thinktank staff and other private or public facilitators whose social and organizational activities involve conceiving a different future. In projecting hope, imagining an alternative to current conditions, social entrepreneurship seeks to parlay a better future into being. But how do social entrepreneurs think about the future in a context where many feel they have little or nothing ahead of them? What difference does not just a precarious but a depressing context make to the psychology of taking risks? Besides studying what entrepreneurs and others say and do in their organisational activities, we will consider the implicit politics of time management, planning and expectation in their intimate spheres. This means exploring how social entrepreneurs use (and abuse) metaphors of the past and future in squaring up to various issues, such as historical injustice, economic violence and political order. Theoretically, this will contribute to a study of expectations, illuminating ideas of hope, failure, doubt, and conviction, as these modalities come into play when people plan for the future. Our intention is to address both our subjects’ feelings of uncertainty over where they stand, and their concern to plan and command their futures in given ways. The project, comprising a PI, three core researchers (and two research advisors), will stretch over 36 months. All the researchers have notable and longstanding expertise in the region, whether in Serbia, Albania, or Slovenia. All of them have already established a collaborative dynamic and boast an impressive track record. They are fluent in their working languages (Albanian, Slovenian and Serbian) and have access to various entrepreneurial individuals and groups. This original anthropological project aims to focus on the future by studying similarities and differences between social entrepreneurs’ activities in these three SEE countries. A systematic comparative study of people’s expectations, intimate affects and perceptions in working out their futures will be of importance not just to anthropologists and social science, but to anyone with an interest in the mechanisms and culture of planning, deferral and self-denial, doubt, failure and success. Moreover, the research will contribute to theoretical inquiries into social entrepreneurship from an ethnographic point of view in suggesting a number of productive questions for the study and practical application of social entrepreneurship in contexts perceived as particularly precarious.
Significance for science
An innovative research project such as the current proposal promises to deepen and redefine our understanding of life in contemporary Serbia, Albania, and Slovenia. The perspectives gained through the research’s focus on expectations should allow us to see its sites as more than places simply marked by a difficult past. Instead, the projects will treat these places as the crucible of different ways of imagining the future.   Our empirical, material and analytical insights will be widely disseminated (8 peer-reviewed journal articles, and material for individual monograph manuscripts) in and beyond academia and will speak to various EU and other policies on education and entrepreneurship in Southeast Europe and wider. Indeed, a systematic and comparative critical study of the expectations and planning of the future in southeast Europe will be of importance not only to scholars of anthropology and social science, but to anyone with an interest in the mechanisms and culture of planning, deferral and self-denial, doubt, failure and success.
Significance for the country
The proposed comparative project will probe political, economical and ethical configurations of strategizing and planning for the future in precarious times. A detailed ethnographic study of the contemporary social entrepreneurial and visionary cultures in Serbia, Albania and Slovenia will produce and architecture of questions and concerns, which, once answered, can point towards context-specific designs for understanding the social realities, the needs, and the phantasies of our informants. Our research proposes to develop a methodology and strategies for better understanding of everyday, legal, ethical and social conventions that form part of various businesses and enable cultural encounters. Crucially, the final impact of this research project aims beyond its timetable and beyond academia. We will try to connect with both state and private universities in Slovenia, Serbia and Albania whose MA and PhD programmes teach or in any capacity promote entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial cultures. The final conference of the research project will be organised also with their help. We will also seek to disseminate our research results through media (TV; radio; newspaper, online) outlets in all three countries, as well as to give official presentations for the Ministries of Economic Development and Technology. Besides that we will be focusing on sharing our insights with our networks of alternative, social entrepreneurs.  Our data and analysis will thus contribute to sustainable development and enhanced understanding of successful (and failed) social entrepreneurial know-how. This knowledge may prove most useful for anyone wanting to learn from/set up their own entrepreneurial projects. Besides that it will provide communities, local governments and stakeholders with an apparatus for tackling questions regarding contemporary understanding of notions of risk, precariousness, success and well-being. Moroever, our aim is to critically enquire and challenge the commonsensical and apocalyptic media analysis and political constructions of weakness and despair.
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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