In memoriam Ljiljana Baćević (1940 – 2020)

Ljiljana Baćević, long-time director of the Centre for Political Studies and Public Opinion Research of the Institute of Social Sciences, passed away in Belgrade on 2 October 2020.

Born in 1940 in Sarajevo, she began her academic education in the field of psychology. But her vocation, that was to deal with social phenomena, required a multidisciplinary approach. Thus, after graduating in psychology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade (1963), she chose a master degree in communication in Ljubljana (Faculty of Sociology, Political Science and Journalism, 1969), while earning her PhD from the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade (1986).

Her scientific career was unequivocally determined by the Centre for Political Studies and Public Opinion Research of the Institute of Social Sciences, where she spent her entire working life. Better to say: she determined the Centre. As a trainee she participated 1963/64 in the foundation of this first institution of its kind not only in Yugoslavia, but in the socialist world. In the Centre she was engaged in all its programs, which were initially focusing on the pioneering work of initiating scientific research of public opinion on economic, political and social issues and the development of an appropriate methodology. Later, these programs expanded to research on social elites, ethnic relations, values, youth, media, the political and electoral behaviour of citizens, theoretical and methodological research and publishing.

After becoming the director of the Centre in 1989, Ljiljana Baćević significantly improved its empirical research, expanded its international cooperation, increased the visibility of the Centre and its researchers in the domestic and foreign academic and general public and contributed to the overall development of public opinion research in Serbia. Soon after the introduction of the multi-party system, the Centre had become a reference point for pre- and post-election analyses and for the research of political affiliations of citizens. Also the creation of the first electronic database of empirical research in the social sciences was also Ljiljana’s merit.

She has participated in more than a hundred, and managed several dozen scientific research projects that dealt with public opinion, media, culture, interethnic relations, religions, elites and political culture. The last one being an international project investigating the perception of democracy among the citizens of Serbia, when in her seventies she showed the same dedication to work, analytical brilliancy, accuracy and stylistic mastery as in the decades before.

In the Centre, Ljiljana always felt like at home. She was every day in her office, which she called her "living room", and in which she was with equal care nurturing numerous plants and working on the introduction of the latest computer data processing technology. When, at the age of 65, and after more than forty years at the Institute of Social Sciences, she was supposed to leave her living room and retire as a senior researcher, Ljiljana Baćević was appointed Serbian ambassador to Greece, which made her continue working for additional four years in Athens before ending her career.

While being an outstanding scientist, Ljiljana’s profession was not the only thing filling her life. She was a passionate reader and a great fancier of fiction. She loved ancient history, in particular the Greek and Egyptian. She loved and regularly went to the theatre, and travelled to art exhibitions in world capitals, sometimes even just for one day. She also loved – probably most of all – her daughter, Jana Baćević.

Ljiljana Baćević left behind a great number of scientific publications: monographs, articles, edited volumes, empirical analyses. And she was twice, in 1973 and 1987, the laureate of the annual award for scientific work in the field of mass communication. However, those who knew Ljiljana know that she would not attach much importance to all that. Just as she did not attach importance to her death, nor did she consider her departure, which in the recent months was certain, worth even a passing remark. She left calm and decisive, unobtrusive and with dignity, and above all classy – the same way she always had lived and appear in public.