Institutional everyday life in socialist Yugoslavia: The municipalities of Tuzla, Ohrid and Kragujevac (1950-1980)
The micro-historical and actor-oriented perspective on the institutional everyday life in three municipalities of socialist Yugoslavia – Tuzla, Ohrid and Kragujevac – critically questions and empirically examines the existing narratives of its history as a „prehistory of state failure“. Departing from the community level, the Yugoslav heterogeneity is being examined both in terms of the various „everyday lives“ of the people as well as the local differences in the dominance of society by the party and state apparatus. Moreover, the project scrutinizes the thesis about the incurred „six or even eight socialisms“ in the various republics and autonomous provinces as a result of the increasing decentralization and federalization of Yugoslavia. The intended outcome of the project is a new history of Yugoslav socialism, which represents the elimination of the existing empirical, but also methodological void between the older sociological and / or political-historical studies and the recent research of the cultural and everyday history of socialism (not only) in Yugoslavia. While the former described mainly the „system“, the latter examined primarily the socialist everyday life of (ordinary) people. Instead of implicitly or explicitly postulating a dichotomy between „everyday life“ and/or „practice“ and socialist „ideology“, „politics“ etc., the project directs its attention to the people and their daily life in the political and economic system. The project is to answer the following questions: How did the political and economic system of socialist Yugoslavia work? Who were the actors at the „base“, which were to implement, to support and eventually to internalize all the changes of a constantly changing system? How did people live in and through the highly complex institutional structure, how did their practice at the local level look like and how did they perceive it? To what extent was the institutional life determined „ideologically“, or were there rather practical problems and solutions of relevance? Of what significance was in this regard the Yugoslav federalism? How big were the similarities and the differences at the community level in terms of the practice of institutions in the various federal units? Answering these questions will generally contribute to a better understanding of the importance of institutions for social cohesion. Both the empirical evidence and theoretical and methodological considerations for example about the question of the relation structure-agency in the analysis of institutions are to eventually open up new possibilities of how to write a history of people as an institutional history.