Postcommunism from Within: Social Justice, Mobilization, and Hegemony

Postcommunism from Within: Social Justice, Mobilization, and Hegemony

Postcommunism from Within: Social Justice, Mobilization, and Hegemony

Postcommunism from Within: Social Justice, Mobilization, and Hegemony


"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


Seteney Shami

I am delighted to see this volume go to print. As the director of the Eurasia Program at the time when the project was conceptualized, the meetings organized, and the volume planned, I was particularly fortunate to be working closely with Jan Kubik and Amy Linch, whose scholarly commitment to the vision of the volume was matched only by their organizational abilities. It is always a challenge to shepherd a group of overworked and geographically far-flung academics and mold their work into one cohesive manuscript. Jan and Amy have achieved their goal with remarkable success.

Within the broader context of the Social Science Research Council, this volume is the product of both the Eurasia Program and a cross-programmatic project entitled “Responding to Hegemony: the Dynamics of Social Movements,” which was generously funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. the project, organized as a series of workshops and publications, focused on the differential impact of us hegemony in various regions of the world and the kinds of social mobilization that obtained in response. This involved rethinking hegemony and how it works, the multiple sources and roles of hegemonic power in the center and the peripheries, and the ways in which people mobilize for political action in the twenty-first century. Workshops focused on Europe and Latin America, in addition to Eastern Europe and Eurasia, and the project ended with an examination of the “politics of expertise.” This included examining the role of “experts” in shaping and controlling the debate on regional and global policies through the example of the war and postwar reconstruction in Iraq, as well as the expanding role of think tanks in the United States and elsewhere and their place in the global landscape of knowledge production.

In the spirit of this global project, and as Amy mentions in the Introduction below, this volume was conceived, from the beginning, as a reflexive and agenda-setting enterprise, and it is extremely pleasing that this vision . . .

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