Diverse Paths to Modernity in Southeastern Europe: Essays in National Development

Diverse Paths to Modernity in Southeastern Europe: Essays in National Development

Diverse Paths to Modernity in Southeastern Europe: Essays in National Development

Diverse Paths to Modernity in Southeastern Europe: Essays in National Development

Synopsis

This collection of essays provides a historical perspective on the problems and prospects of development in the major Balkan states of Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece, and Bulgaria. Providing an integrated overview of the region, the work identifies differences in developmental strategies that have arisen in particular states in the past century, and offers a framework for comparing developmental variations. It is the first study to examine development over the entire 20th century and to consider states with markedly different social and political systems.

Excerpt

Today all of the developed world must confront the changes that are sweeping across Eastern Europe. As for the nations in that area, they face enormous tasks, including creating democratic political systems, restructuring to move from planned to market economies, coping with increased social inequality as a result of opening up to the world market, and dealing with festering nationality and minority problems and disputes with neighbors arising from them. Despite talk about the need to break with the past, the future development of these countries will be influenced to a large extent by their particular historical experiences.

Southeastern Europe is a striking setting in which to consider the problems and prospects of development in the era of glasnost from a historical perspective. During the nineteenth century the Balkans were an early example of societies going through the process of nation formation while burdened with economic backwardness. In the twentieth century the area has witnessed dramatic developmental change, while having to cope with the social and cultural dilemmas of modernity.

The two most dynamic political ideologies to emerge in the modern age--nationalism and socialism--have confronted and interacted with one another vigorously in this region. Furthermore, Southeastern Europe remains an area of geostrategic importance where in the recent past the forces of the two most powerful military blocs in the world have confronted one another. In this region of Europe three major religions, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Islam, which are deeply embedded in the popular cultures of the region, have interacted and challenged the process of modernization. Finally, while the Southeast European nations have experienced more growth than the less developed countries of the Third World, they must nonetheless deal with the economically developed states of the world. Therefore, the countries of this region are an excellent example of societies that have managed to create significant economic growth, but yet have developed unevenly because of external and domestic factors.

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