This book grew out of an international conference, "The New Elite in the Post-Communist World," held at Michigan State University on November 2-4, 1994. The conference was organized by sociologists Vladimir Shlapentokh and Christopher Vanderpool with the assistance of political scientist Christopher Sprecher. Participants were major scholars, public opinion leaders, and representatives of the new elite groups in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the new states of the post- communist world. Representatives from major international and national governmental and nongovernmental organizations as well as United States and Western European scholars presented papers at the conference.
The conference addressed the following central question: Given that most of the power in the communist systems were controlled by institutions dominated by the state, how is power being organized when the state is no longer dominant? With new power systems come new dominant elites. The conference identified new elites controlling the political, economic, cultural, and scientific institutions of the new state systems.
Following the conference, several of the discussants (scholars from around the globe) prepared chapters for this book. The collection explicates the nature of power in the postcommunist world in the historical context of the period immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union by 1) identifying the new elites who controlled the political, economic, cultural, and scientific institutions of the new state systems; 2) pinpointing the characteristics of the new elite and the ways they gained power; 3) elucidating the relationships between the old and new elite; 4) defining the new patterns of relationships of elite women in society;