Postcommunism from Within


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“This is a much needed collection…. In bringing together a series of essays focused on gender, poverty, and corruption, the book is a must for anyone who wants to develop a multifaceted and nuanced understanding of the far-reaching changes of the past two decades.”—Michael Bernhard, author of Institutions and the Fate of Democracy: Germany and Poland in the Twentieth Century While the decline of communism in the late twentieth century brought democracy, political freedom, and better economic prospects for many people, it also produced massive social dislocation and engendered social problems that were far less pronounced under the old regimes. The fall of state socialism led to enormously complex political, economic, social, and cultural transformations, and while political liberalization was a lofty goal, it was neither uniform in its effects nor unqualified in its benefits. Postcommunism from Within foregrounds the diversity of the historical experiences and current realities of people in the postcommunist region in examining how they are responding to these monumental changes at home. The original essays in this volume lay out a bold new approach to research on the postcommunist region, and to democratization studies more broadly, that focuses on the social and cultural microprocesses behind political and economic transformation. Thematic essays by eminent scholars of postcommunism from across the social sciences are supported by case studies to demonstrate the limitations of current democratization paradigms and suggest ways of building categories of research that more closely capture the role of vernacular knowledge in demanding, creating, and adapting to institutional change. A novel approach to understanding one of the greatest political and social transformations in recent history, Postcommunism from Within explores not just how citizens respond to political and economic restructuring engineered at the top but also how people enact their own visions of life, politics, and justice by responding to daily challenges. Jan Kubik is Professor and Chair in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His publications include Anthropology and Political Science (with Myron Aronoff) and The Power of Symbols against the Symbols of Power. Amy Linch is a lecturer in Political Theory at Pennsylvania State University. She is an editor of the International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest: 1500 to the Present. A co-publication of New York University Press and the Social Science Research Council

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