Moral, law, public opinion, state, religion – these are main possible authorities regulating relations in a society. “Gallup International” tested what is generally the thinking of the Bulgarians regarding them, as a part of a series of polls related to the thirtieth anniversary of the beginning of the democratic changes in the country. A previous publication of the series, one considering the relation of the Bulgarians to democracy, can be seen HERE.
The Bulgarians in a substantial degree tend to blame the state for their problems; young generations less so. The opinion of the others about us seems to be rather important. Here again younger people are less constrained. Rather than the formal keeping to the law, a more general sense of justice is perhaps more preferable. The Church stands among the respected authorities although the problems in its public image are visible.
The state is to be blamed?
It appears that three decades since the democratic changes in Bulgaria almost half (46 per cent) of the public here tends to agree that the state is to be blamed for most problems in our lives. 42 per cent is the share of those who disagree with such statements while 12 per cent struggle with answer. Thus, our society is virtually divided into two along the question whether the state is to be blamed for most problems in our lives.
It is of course debatable what exactly is invested by each respondent in the generalized cliché of ‘state’. This image however clearly includes the various institutions as well as the more thorough concept pf statehood and power, and their all possible vices respectively.
As it could be expected, age (and related social status) does matter for the public attitudes regarding the role of the state for their personal well-being. The youngest respondents aged between 18 and 25 (or those who were born after the watershed of 1989) seem in a higher degree prone to blame themselves rather than the state about the problems in their lives. Probably parallel to age the reasons to blame the state are also on the rise as well as the objective truthfulness of this accusation.
Supporters of those in power are expectedly less critical.
Legality and/or justice
The mass opinion is clearly oriented towards protection of the more general perception of justice even when it contradicts the legally established norms. 68 per cent of the participants in the survey share the opinion that it is most important in life to be just while not always strictly abiding by the law; other 19 per cent say that this statement does not refer to them, and the last 13 per cent struggle with answer. This opinion is supported by different demographic groups.
It is apparent that our society has its moral criteria based on some feeling of common sense rather than the legal details.
What the people would say
The opinion of the others is a traditional regulator of the behavior of a large part of the people even if unconscious one. 57 per cent of the inquired adult Bulgarians claim to pay attention to the opinion of their close ones about them, 38 per cent consider it of no importance while 5 per cent decline responding.
It appears that the opinion of the others is an important social regulator for all ages as shares of above 50 per cent establish public opinion as crucial both among the youngest and the oldest.
Yet expectedly the elder respondents share to a higher degree the statement that the opinion of the others is important for them. The younger ones seem to be not (yet) thinking that way.
Relation to the Church
Against the background of the other institutions in Bulgaria, the Church enjoys comparatively high levels of confidence. After some short fluctuations and crisis moments generated by various scandals with clerics, the confidence in the Church remains at levels between 40 and 50 per cent since the enthronization of Patriarch Neophyte in 2013 and in general terms stands lastingly higher than non-confidence.
Previous “Gallup International” polls show that people relate the Church to some chronic problems such as business contacts and luxurious lifestyle of clerics, lack of activities sufficiently close to everyday life of people, decrease of the role of religion in contemporary society, the belonging of higher clerics to the former State Security apparatus of the communist regime, etc. Negative influence over the image of the Church has probably been exercised by the activity of religious sects, the role of the atheistic governance in the recent past, the lack of well-trained clerics, the lack of sufficient respect to the Church on behalf of active parts of the society, etc.
It is natural that every time we speak about confidence in the Church we should have in mind the fact that representatives of different confessions are living in the country as well as the gradual decrease of the leading role of religion in many European societies, ours including. Yet at this moment the Church seems to be among the social regulators with the (although fluctuating) highest public confidence, at least compared to the state institutions.
One could find more information on the relation of the Bulgarians to the Church and religion HERE.
The data are part of the monthly research programme of “Gallup International”. The poll was conducted face-to-face in the period between August 2 and 9, 2019, and it representative for the population of Bulgaria aged 18+. The maximum standard deviation is ±3.5% at 50% shares. 1 per cent of the sample corresponds to about 55,000 people.