Updated on
Jun 23, 2021

Domestic and foreign disinformation narratives are deepening public disillusion over Serbia’s complex democratic transition process and its prospects for European integration. In this vein, the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) public opinion research in Serbia in 2018 highlighted the importance of “microenvironments”—local communities—as consequential to how citizens process information on public affairs, including disinformation narratives, which are primarily received through mainstream broadcast media.

NDI tested the validity of the hypothesis that engaging citizens at the local level, in their “microenvironments”, can have a salutary effect in their ability to question, if not reject, disinformation narratives. Together with the Center for Research, Transparency, and Accountability (CRTA), a leading Serbian civic organization experienced in disinformation research and civil society development, NDI tested this hypothesis in a pilot format in two selected municipalities through three sets of treatments: (1) information “waves” dispelling disinformation narratives; (2) citizen engagement in local issue awareness and advocacy initiatives; and (3) combinations of both the information waves and citizen engagement.

NDI found that both the information and civic engagement interventions had a statistically meaningful, positive impact. Residents of each municipality have also responded positively to increased opportunities for engagement