A Culture of Corruption? Coping with Government in Post-Communist Europe

A Culture of Corruption? Coping with Government in Post-Communist Europe

A Culture of Corruption? Coping with Government in Post-Communist Europe

A Culture of Corruption? Coping with Government in Post-Communist Europe

Synopsis

A Culture of Corruption provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive account of how citizens cope with state officials in post-communist Europe, how they feel about their dealings with these officials and what support they give to proposals for reform. The authors go beyond analysing public perceptions and behavior and look at public attitudes towards proposals for reform. The book reveals how the problem of citizens' interactions with officials varies in kind as well as in degree across the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Excerpt

This is a book about how ordinary citizens in post-communist Europe cope with government. Specifically it covers four countries: Ukraine, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In particular, it is about how citizens in these countries cope as individuals in their day-to-day dealings with low-level officials and state employees—about what have been termed ‘bureaucratic encounters’ with ‘street-level bureaucrats’. These low-level officials are not important people, but they can have a critically important impact on the daily lives of ordinary citizens.

It is about what happens in these ‘bureaucratic encounters’ between citizens and officials. But it is not only about what happens. It is also about why it happens. More important still, it is about the nature and the interpretation of these encounters—primarily the interpretation put upon them by the citizens and officials involved, and by the wider community within which they live or work. And it is about support for reform, about what citizens and street-level officials in post-communist Europe think could and should be done to improve the relationship between them.

At a more systemic level, it is about the quality of democracy, about the gap between democratic ideals and performance in post-communist Europe. In a ‘fully consolidated’ or ‘complete’ democracy, citizens should expect not only ‘free and fair’ elections, but also fair and equitable treatment by state officials. Respect for the electorate-as-whole should be balanced by respect for electors-as-individuals. The democratic criteria of freedom, fairness and political equality should apply to the outputs of government as well as to the inputs. The opportunity to play a small role in the democratic input to law-making is a sham and a fraud if the laws are ignored by the state and its officials, whether they . . .

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