The New Elite in Post-Communist Eastern Europe

By Vladimir Shlapentokh; Christopher Vanderpool et al. | Go to book overview

16
The Orientations of Some Elite Groups in Times of Reform

Elena Avraamova

The transformation processes now under way in Russia raise the question of the role of different social groups in times of reform. However, in previous studies, insufficient attention has been paid to the analysis of positions and expectations of social groups, in spite of their important role in the whole process. Among the various social groups, primary attention should be paid to elite groups, which influence the principal decisions on social development and determine the forms of concrete organizational measures for social and economic transformations.1

This study of the elites and their functional role was carried out in the framework of a theory of elites. In both totalitarian and post- totalitarian Russia, such a theory would have been discredited as incompatible with the values of real democracy. Today, however, the following statements would be unequivocally accepted: Elites can be integrated into a conception of democracy. Developing a theory of elites could enhance our knowledge of processes that characterize a society in transition. The analysis and description of transformation processes from a theory of elites has been rather rapid and organic. The reasons for this change are that 1) reforms, as often happened in the history of Russia, were announced "from the top," and this fact exactly defined the power as the main subject of transformation; and 2) the poor development of democratic foundations led to a growing misunderstanding of the roles of "the people" and "the centers of power" into whose hands all the measures of influence were concentrated.

The subject of political analyses and prognoses of the future is based on the functioning and interrelations of power holders and the specific forms they have in contemporary Russia. Elite theory is very suitable for analyses of the central political problem in Russia: are those in

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