Education and Civic Culture in Post-Communist Countries

Education and Civic Culture in Post-Communist Countries

Education and Civic Culture in Post-Communist Countries

Education and Civic Culture in Post-Communist Countries


This volume makes a valuable contribution to debates on the nature of civil society in post-communist countries by providing detailed case-studies of the relationship between education and civic culture. A team of specialists provide a comprehensive examination of everyday patterns of civic culture; the linkage between education and national identity, ethnicity; gender and religion; the experience and attitudes of youth; and attempts to render education systems better suited to the demands of post-communist society.


Stephen Webber and Ilkka Liikanen

In the study of post-communist societies – among researchers in the West, at least – the concept of civic culture has grown in prominence in recent years. This can be seen as an indication of the significance placed on searching for signs of the development of ‘civil society’ in these countries, but perhaps even more so as a reflection of the criticism levelled at approaches that have measured the development of post-communist societies against simplified Western models of ‘civil society.’

Such criticism has led researchers to reconsider the classic operationalisations of civic culture introduced by Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba in the 1960s (see Almond and Verba 1963), and to embark on new directions in the study of democracy and political culture in post-communist contexts. It is possible to discern two major modifications in approach that elaborate further or go beyond the civil society debate. First, instead of analysing civil society as such, through the analysis of formal organisations or by conducting opinion polls on democratic and totalitarian attitudes, civic activity and civic culture are increasingly examined in relation to the state. Politics is seen as a mediating field between state and society, and national variations of its forms are studied against the background of national history, earlier experience of nation-building and the traditions of social and political mobilisation. Second, instead of searching for signs of Western modes of organisation, there is a growing number of studies examining the particular preconditions for collective action in post-communist societies. These studies often focus on the level of people’s everyday social interaction, which, it is suggested, is a major factor in defining their identity and their capacity to act collectively.

The notion that education plays a key role in these approaches formed the rationale both for the preparation of this volume and the organisation of the conference that preceded it. The aim was to emphasise the complexity of the multi-dimensional picture of the civic culture/education interface, and thus move away from an emphasis on systemic analysis, and assumptions that education policies devised at the state level are necessarily implemented

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