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Looking Back at Milošević’s Antibureaucratic Revolution: What Do Ordinary Participants Now Think of Their Involvement?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 September 2019

Marko Grdešić*
Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia
*Corresponding author. Email:


Most scholarship on Serbia’s antibureaucratic revolution of the late 1980s has emphasized elite actors while ignoring the motivations of ordinary participants. How do ordinary people describe their involvement? Moreover, given the antibureaucratic revolution’s dark side—such as exclusionary nationalism and political authoritarianism—it is important to investigate whether participants are willing to critically engage their personal political histories. What do they now say about their roles in this episode? In order to provide answers to this question, six focus groups with a total of 34 participants were organized in the town of Novi Sad, the location of one of the best-known rallies of the antibureaucratic revolution, the so-called yogurt revolution. Most people see their involvement in a rather negative way and regret taking part. However, two blind spots also appear that lessen their sense of personal responsibility: conspiracy theories and notions of urban superiority. The former shifts blame onto secret forces and the latter onto nonurban outsiders. Overall, the long-term legacies of the antibureaucratic revolution are negative: they are associated with cynicism and apathy.

Special Issue Article
© Association for the Study of Nationalities 2019 

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