Managing Ambiguity

Managing Ambiguity

How clientelism, citizenship, and power shape personhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina

2017, Berghahn Books


Why do people turn to personal connections to get things done? Exploring the role of favors in social welfare systems in postwar, postsocialist Bosnia and Herzegovina, this volume provides a new theoretical angle on links between ambiguity and power. It demonstrates that favors were not an instrumental tactic of survival, nor a way to reproduce oneself as a moral person. Instead, favors enabled the insertion of personal compassion into the heart of the organization of welfare.

Managing Ambiguity follows how neoliberal insistence on local community, flexibility, and self-responsibility was translated into clientelist modes of relating and back, and how this fostered a specific mode of power.

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Reviews of “Managing Ambiguity”:

“Using the book by Brkovic, that follows the tradition of challenging the unidimensional view of clientelism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this essay provides the Philippine case as contrast and comparison. … Brković’s book provides a new lens of analysis by looking at clientelism through personhood and agency as power. The contribution of the book on the discourse of clientelism can deepen the understanding of Philippine politics because it encourages an analysis that looks at the exercise of democracy through personhood, agency, and informal institutions.”  Bandung. Journal of the Global South