The narrativisation of social transformation
Most early studies of democratic transition in post-communist Europe stressed that a system change was involved, incorporating three key institutional changes (the so-called 'triple transition') – from authoritarian or totalitarian to democratic governance; from a planned to a free-market economy; and from quasi-colonial status to full nation- and state-hood. Partially dissenting from the institutional school of thought, other authors emphasised the 'path-dependent' nature of the process and the inevitable conditioning of strategic choices by the inherited social, economic and cultural resources of a given society. These critics advocated the term transformation in place of transition, to capture the sense of change as a process of recombinations of existing sub-systems or fractions of capital.
Few western theorists have used the concept of modernisation in connection with post-communist developments (Machonin 1997:108). If so, then only a conceptually narrow version has been invoked, such as when discussing Lipset's notion of a relationship between socio-economic development and democratisation (Nagle and Mahr 1999:55; Przeworski et al. 1995:62–3) or the impact of the scientific-technological revolution on the social and power structures of communist states (Nagle and Mahr 1999:212). Such reductionist understandings – perhaps taking their lead from earlier 'convergence theories' which saw capitalist and state socialist societies as members of a common family of modernities – have led to misinterpretations of what a strategy of modernisation would mean in a post-communist context. Przeworski et al. contrast 'postwar attempts at modernisation' which 'asserted the importance of national cultures, … called for political institutions consistent with national traditions, and envisaged growth led by national industries' with later Latin American and Eastern European strategies which they call 'modernisation by internationalisation' based on 'imitation' in the political, cultural and economic realms: 'today', they conclude, 'modernisation means liberal democracy, consumption-oriented culture, and capitalism' (1995:4). Yet notwithstanding the condition of international dependency in which post-communist