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Fiket, Irena, Gazela Pudar Draško, and Vujo Ilić. “The pandemic in illiberal democracies: challenges and opportunities for social movements in Serbia.” Southeast European and Black Sea Studies (2023): 1-22.


In this article, taking Serbia as a case study, we address the issue of how social movements in illiberal democracies adapted to the effects of the pandemic and the governmental responses. We show that, contrary to expectations, these social movements have intensified their activities and visibility and adapted their agenda during the crisis. Our research studies two movements dealing with socio-economic issues – the right to housing and the right to food as particularly active during pandemics. While the pandemic further constrained the possibility for collective action, these social movements have quickly shifted their priorities towards solidarity with the most vulnerable groups, engaged directly with citizens, and pragmatically approached the polarized media environment, mobilizing broad public support. This finding indicates that social movements in illiberal democracies can exhibit resilience and adaptability to rapidly changing circumstances, even though questions about their sustainability and the attainability of their goals persist.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.