Vitosha Research/Sociological Program
In 1997, Vitosha Research conducted 23 quantitative and qualitative surveys.
I. Research Projects
The research projects conducted in 1997 can be divided into four categories: public opinion surveys, social and economic research, market and media research, and data base development.
1. Public Opinion Surveys
A total of six research projects were coducted in 1997. Five of them were based on national representative samples and one of them was based on quota sample. A total of 4,500 face-to-face interviews were conducted. The basic topics covered were:
- Public opinion about politics and the economy;
- Elites and the changes in Bulgaria;
- Mass privatization attitudes.
The Vitosha Research team at work.
2. Social and Economic Research
Social and economic research included both quantitative and qualitative studies. Vitosha Research conducted over 6,000 face-to-face interviews, 30 in-depth interviews, and 7 focus group discussions, covering the following topics:
- Non-governmental organizations and their economic environment;
- Attitudes of Bulgarians towards corruption;
- Problems of health insurance;
- Social and political security;
- Relations between citizens and go-vernment officials.
Social and economic research projects conducted by Vitosha Research in 1997 were commissioned by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Development Nations (UNDP), Urban Institute (USA), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases (UK), and University of Glasgow (UK).
International Social Justice Project
The International Social Justice Project is a collaborative research effort aimimg to explore the perceptions of social justice in six countries. The project includes the development, implementation and analysis of data gathered through a common survey questionnaire in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, and Russia. The first stage of the project was completed in 1991. The second stage of the project started in 1995 and the surveys were conducted in October 1996. The results of the surveys were discussed at a conference in Beladjo, Italy in May 1997.
The basic objective of the project was to collect and analyze information about public perceptions of social justice in order to stimulate public support for reform processes and for future social change.
Coping with Government
This project focuses on the interaction between citizens and junior officials (state and local government). A variety of in-depth, qualitative and quantitative methods were used to study the strategies and the networks that people use to cope with government in Bulgaria, Ukraine, Slovak Republic, and the Czech Republic. The problems are explored both from the point of view of junior officials and of the public.
The objectives of the project were:
- To find out whether different forms of corruption have emerged as a real problem, or does it represent a "culture of complaining" which the old regime used for controlling officials;
- To find out what coping strategies citizens employ when faced with unfair treatment by officials. These strategies can include: persistence, appeal to higher authority, to the press, to elected officials; the use of contacts, influence, and bribery, or simply attempts to minimize their interaction with officials they do not trust;
- To find out whether citizens are in fact comfortable with a culture of briberies and influence.
Human Security in Bulgaria
Vitosha Research contributed to a project aimed at outlining the major human security issues in Bulgaria as perceived by the public at large. It was part of the efforts of UNDP to further enhance the elaboration of pro-active social and economic policies designed to address the most acute problems of the transition in Bulgaria.
A national representative survey (sample size N = 1500) was conducted in June 1997. The survey results will be used as a groundwork for a future study of human aspirations. The survey will serve as the basis for policy formulation and decision-making as well as a criterion for assessing the effects of the social and economic policy mechanisms which have been in operation for the past few years. The findings and conclusions about human security are expected to provoke further inquiry and discussions about the human dimensions of transition in Bulgarian society.
Early Warning System in Bulgaria
Early warning systems explore the possibility of anticipating and responding to crisis situations before they become too violent or mitigating their effects once underway. Early warning reporting develops predictive capabilities and enhances informed judgments about possible sequences of events and outcomes.
In November 1997, a project for development of an early warning system in Bulgaria was initiated by United National Development Program (UNDP). Work on the project is carried out by CSD, the Department of International Relations Association, BBSS Gallup, and Club Ekonomika 2000. The project activities include:
- Design of a system of interrelated indicators aimed at monthly monitoring of the dynamics of the overall economic, social, political, religious and ethnic environment in Bulgaria;
- Developing an effective frame for data gathering and communication networks. Currently, the information is based on monthly opinion polls, data from Bulgarian governmental institutions and information in the press;
- Summarizing the findings of the monitoring system and analyzing the information;
- Distribution of reports on a monthly basis and bringing the information to the attention of all interested parties including potentially affected actors.
The information system will be unique in Bulgaria. It is expected that the ideal format of reporting will be achieved after several months of experience.
3. Market and Media Research
Two quantitative and one qualitative market research projects were conducted in 1997. They included 3000 face-to-face interviews, six store checks, and desk research. The research fields covered included consumer behavior surveys and a survey of the Bulgarian pharmaceutical market. The media research projects completed in 1997 focused on the assessment of media audiences and programming evaluation.
4. Data Base Development
Two Vitosha Research projects included data base design. The developed data bases provide accurate and reliable data in the following areas:
- Bulgarian non-governmental organizations;
- Bulgarian public policy experts.
The projects were commissioned by Bulgarian representatives of the Democracy Network Program at the Institute for Sustainable Communities and the Austrian Institute for East and South-East Europe.
Social Justice: Public Perceptions and Public Debate (February 20, 1997)
The conference was organized with the support of the Royal Netherlands Embassy and aimed:
- To present the results from a survey on political, social, and economic justice conducted in December 1996;
- To provide an analysis of the current and former (pre-89) attitudes towards justice in Bulgaria based upon tendencies evidenced by the survey;
- To stimulate public concern and debate regarding these issues.
The conference was attended by government officials, researchers, journalists, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and other interested observers.
Lecturers at the conference were:
- Blagovest Georgiev - Associate Professor at Sofia University, Department of Sociology;
- Dimitar Ninov - Head of the Department of Social Insurance at the Mi-nistry of Finance;
- Galja Krasteva - Senior Analyst at Vitosha Research.
Mr. Alexander Stoyanov, CSD Director of Research, chaired the conference on Social Justice: Public Perceptions and Public Debate jointly with Mr. Lambertus van Geel, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Sofia.
Several analytic reports, working papers and articles were prepared by the staff members of Vitosha Research:
1. VR analytic Reports
- Public Perceptions on Social Justice (analysis of the results of a survey conducted in December 1996)
- Perceptions on Social Justice: Overview Report (analysis of the results of two surveys conducted in July 1991 and December 1996)
- Public Opinion on the Eve of the Upcoming Parliamentary Elections (April 1997)
- Public Opinion on Non-Governmental Organizations in Bulgaria (analysis of the results of a survey conducted in December 1996)
- Non-Governmental Organizations in Bulgaria: Overview Report (analysis of the results of a series of surveys conducted in the period from May 1994 to September 1997)
- NGOs, Actively Working on Public Policy Issues (April 1997)
- Problems of Not-For-Profit Organizations in Bulgaria (focus-group discussion analysis, June 1997)
- Attitudes of Bulgarians towards Corruption (analysis of the results of two surveys conducted in March 1997 and September 1997)
- Human Security in Bulgaria (November 1997)
- Elites and Changes in Bulgaria (May 1997)
- The attitudes of the Bulgarian Elite towards NGOs in Bulgaria (May 1997)
- First Wave of Mass Privatization and Problems of Privatized Enterprises Management (focus-group discussion analysis, May 1997)
- 1997 Bulgarian Think-Tank Survey: Final Overview Report (September 1997)
2. Newspaper Articles
The public opinion does not consider as normal the great social differences (Pari, March 19, 1997)
The third sector enlarges its positions (Balgarski biznes, vol. 19, May 1997)
NGOs are not considered as a real corrective for the power and business yet (Kontinent, October 23, 1997)
The modern tax environment for development of the NGOs (Delova sedmica, vol. 38, 1997)
Corruption is not tolerated any more (Trud, November 25, 1997)
NGOs - the way ahead in the changing world (The Sofia Echo, November 21, 1997)
Corruption: Society is not tolerating it anymore (The Sofia Echo, December 5, 1997)