Give Me Voice research in Bulgaria
The study done in the framework of the project Empowering Communities in Europe aimed to collect and give space to the voices of young people in three selected locations in Bulgaria to explore through focus group interviews how hate speech arises on fertile ground of economic and security fears. The three focus group interviews happened in the period June-July 2017. The one in Belene (24 June 2017) had no refugee population at the time of the study, and the other two in Harmanli (29 June 2017) and Sofia (8 July 2017) had. The study showed that the young people in all three locations have more arguments in line with the general fears expressed and rather weaker arguments in favour of supporting refugees (human approach).
A specific issue that appeared to be of high importance in the Bulgarian context, especially for the young people in the smaller towns, was the need to improve the critical thinking skills of the younger generation towards using various kinds of media, both traditional and social. Questioning news, finding diverse and reliable sources, verifying the information, building one’s opinion based on various sources, etc. appeared to be needed and strengthened, because of being crucial when forming one’s opinion.