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NA Reports – Sociology in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Political Consequences and Its Impact on Academic Research Dr Vedad Muharemović
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ESA PhD Summer School 2020 – Separate but together! Hamide Elif Üzümcü
Thesis Spotlight – Personalisation between Social Regulation and Subjectivation: Shifts in the Structuring of Contemporary Societies and Institutions Nika Šušterič

NA Reports – Sociology in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Political Consequences and Its Impact on Academic Research

Issue 46: Pandemic (Im)Possibilities vol. 2 Sat 1 May 2021 0

Sociology, historically speaking, has a relatively long tradition in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This tradition is partly derived from the fact that former Yugoslavia, with its several federal republics including Bosnia and Herzegovina, had an enviable level of sociological research and interests, and within this, institutionally, various units (faculties, departments and institutes) had existed within individual republics. The first study of sociology in Bosnia and Herzegovina began with the establishment of the Department of Philosophy in 1956 at the Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo, which functioned originally as the Department of Philosophy and Sociology. In 2010 the Department of Sociology became independent.

The Department is directly credited with establishing other related study groups at the University of Sarajevo (in the Faculty of Political Science which also has its own Sociology Department) and at other Universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina through the preparation of professional staff.

After the collapse of socialism, and after the aggressive war and dissolution of the former state, each republic achieved political and national independence and established its own and independent national sociological association. Some had existed within Yugoslavia already although the Yugoslav Sociological Association no longer exists. The study of sociology continues its academic and research activities within faculties, departments and institutes. The case of sociology in Bosnia and Herzegovina is far more problematic and generates various issues that cannot be reduced to the mere sphere of science, academic activity and so on. It needs to be connected with the political and ideological issues that determine all these institutional and non-institutional practices and situations, including the one we are concerned with.

The specific position of sociology in the Bosnian political and social situation lies in its academic, professional and institutional fragmentation that generates academic, professional and institutional activities and practices that are often mutually exclusive, isolated and contrary.

We must go back to a level of social facts produced by war, violence and political contradictions. Because sociology cannot escape from the issues of its own subject matter, its form, content and organisation are deeply determined by the social and state structure of this country. To display Bosnia and Herzegovina as a complex and contradictory social fact (in a Durkheimian sense of social facts) implies pointing to structural fragmentation and socio-political arrangements which generate fragmentation in the educational system, cultural system, economic system, health care system and administrative system. It also implies the fragmentation of territory, language, culture, norms, values and finally the fragmentation of interactions and practices.

Sociology in this country needs to have institutionally recognised associations and institutes analogous to those of other ex-Yugoslavian countries and other functionally organised countries in general. However, their absence is closely linked to the social and political condition of Bosnia and Herzegovina  and its fragmentation, ethno-religious quarantines and political interventions into the autonomy of science. Currently, there is a Sociological Society of Republic of Srpska, but this society represents only one part of Bosnia and Herzegovina (namely one political entity). Hence, there is no unique and single national/institutional strategy for Bosnia and Herzegovina and no institutionally established organisations and institutes with their own projects, coordinations, practices, etc.

Beyond individual cases of sociologists who are engaged in public and/or political activity and sociologists who teach at the universities, all other activity is reduced to the following: „What is happening with science in general also happens with sociology. (...[It]) exists only as a general abstract knowledge about society and nothing more.“ [1] One way to overcome this situation is through changing consciousness and becoming willing to work on some coherent strategic activities that could establish sociology as a discipline that is complementary to sociologies in other European countries. In the institutional sense, one dimension of this is the foundation of a Sociological Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a network for mutual cooperative and consensual activity among sociologists in this country united through their common sociological interests. This will enable all of us to cooperate more intensively with similar associations in the European Community and worldwide. The one issue that remains problematic is whether a common sociological interest can overcome the particularities that are derived from the specific social and state structures of this country. Since procedures to establish an association are ongoing, we hope that in the future this common sociological project will be accomplished.


[1] See in: Filipović, M. ‘Status sociologije kao nauke u današnjoj Bosni i Hercegovini i neki primjeri koji se odnose na to pitanje’. (The status of sociology as a science in present Bosnia and Herzegovina and some examples related to this issue). Pregled, 2004, 1-2, p. 23.

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