THE SOCIAL TRAUMA OF WAR VETERANS

Olivera MARKOVIĆ-SAVIĆ

Abstract


Abstract: This paper deals with the attitude of the society towards war veterans in Serbia, from their perspective. It presents the research results of the social position of war veterans in Serbia from the theoretical framework of the so-called social constructivism. This theoretical approach advocates the standpoint that the problem of war veterans does not socially exist until it is constructed as a social problem, i.e. until it reaches the appropriate symbolic interpretation. Therefore, the interpretation and representation of participating in war, viewed as socially symbolic acts, are important aspects of understanding the social trauma of those who return from war and carry with them clinical and therapeutic aspects of trauma. 30 war veterans who partook in the wars on the territory of former Yugoslavia participated in the study. The method of semi-structured interviews was used in the research. The objective of the study was to determine their attitudes and experiences about their own position in the society through the most important aspects of their interaction with the close and wider social environment. The research results indicate that dissatisfaction prevails in the examinees’ self-perception regarding their reacceptance into the society. The self-perception of the society’s attitude towards their participation in the war ranges from condemnation to pointlessness of their sacrifice. The situation is even more drastic with those who returned from the war with a physical disability; their self-perception of the society’s attitude can be summarized as compassion without genuine support for the re-socialization. Keywords: war veterans, social constructivism, social trauma, re-socialization, stigmatization.

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