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Tracing the phases of parallelism

Anna Danielson
Uppsala Universitet
Anna Danielson
Uppsala Universitet
Open Panel

Abstract

The Kosovo parallel society existing from the late 1980s until the mid/end of the 1990s is often considered an act of peaceful resistance during which the Kosovo-Albanians came together to pursue the shared goal of autonomy (or even independence) from the Yugoslav/Serbian state. The shadow state consisted of various functions, for example systems for education and taxation. Partly based upon voluntarism, the parallel times were also characterised by (implicit and explicit) social norms to conform to certain principles. Despite its importance for the subsequent Kosovar development – the transition towards a functioning state and a market economy – the parallel society is surprisingly little studied, not least in a systematic and theoretically informed way. Arguably, legacies from this period are still influencing current transition processes, framed by one observer as: the physical structures have disappeared but the mentality of the parallel society is partially still existing but nowadays directed instead towards the national government. By employing a mechanism-based approach, accounting for the roots, maintenance and eventual demise of parallelism, this paper sheds light on the process by which a changing context influence changes in civic attitudes and behaviour. Empirically focused but theoretically informed, the paper applies a constructivist institutionalist perspective in order to (through historical narratives and interviews) trace norms and attitudes that existed during the various phases of parallelism; providing insights into this empirical phenomenon but particularly into how causal mechanisms behind norms and behaviour function on various level of aggregation (individual and collective).