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Post‐socialist gender transformations and women's experiences of employment: Movements between continuity and change in Bulgaria

Mariya Stoilova (Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 17 October 2010




This paper seeks to demonstrate that gender research is crucial to understanding post‐socialist transformations and wider changes in social life. Focused on employment experiences and gender identities of two generations of Bulgarian women, it aims to highlight the complex intertwining of social structure and individual agency and to point out how processes of continuity and change constitute the post‐socialist transformation and individual life journeys.


Informed by feminist analyses of gender and citizenship, generation theory and qualitative interviews, the paper employs the notion of gender imaginaries in comparing continuity and change in gender policy and individual experiences.


The paper argues that significant changes occurred after 1989 in the ways official gender imaginaries were constructed through law, policy, and public discourses. In comparison to this, individual women's gender imaginaries entailed not only change but also sustained attachment to paid work, rejection of domesticity, and continued feelings of gender equality. This suggests that stable and often unquestioned notions of gender had a significant role for individual imaginaries. In addition to this, some of the most considerable changes were manifested in the notions of risk and uncertainty, which have become central aspects of the post‐socialist gender imaginary, particularly in relation to paid work.


The paper engages in a comparison of employment experiences of two generations of women thus directing its enquiry to the combination of individuals' agency in crafting one's life journey and the constraints of social structures and existing gender inequalities. Thus, transformations in individual lived lives of women are seen as interrelated with social change and historic location.



Stoilova, M. (2010), "Post‐socialist gender transformations and women's experiences of employment: Movements between continuity and change in Bulgaria", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 731-754.



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