'We are Shepherds, But Not Sheep': Farmer Protest and Rural Identity in Bulgaria

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Rural society in Bulgaria has seen considerable upheaval over the past century, moving from a position of political significance, rural actors were subsequently subordinated under the communist regime (1946-1989). The post-socialist period saw further turmoil as land restitution, privatisation, and depopulation reshaped rural communities, leading to increased marginalisation. Facing uncertain futures, rural producers have engaged in a range of actions to challenge and resist threats to their material interests and rural way of life. This article draws on a unique dataset of protest events by rural producers over the 2000-2019 period to understand how and why they protest. In doing so, it considers how the claims presented can be seen to reflect efforts to protect rural communities in a time of change. The findings suggest that material interests serve as the key mobilising force but that these rest on a sense of collective identity around the importance of rural society to support their claims.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)185-200
Number of pages16
JournalRural Society
Issue number3
Early online date19 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s).


  • Farmers
  • Identity
  • Bulgaria
  • Protest
  • Rural

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