The Berlin Republic: German Unification and a Decade of Changes

By Winand Gellner; John D. Robertson | Go to book overview

Local Government and Politics in East Germany
HELLMUT WOLLMANNThis article focuses on the institutional side of the 'multi-dimensionar transformation that East Germany experienced in the wake of the collapse of the communist regime. Therefore, the study will deal with (in the terminology of a well-known distinction) polity rather than with politics and policy.The institutional transformation of post-socialist countries has often been conceived as having been mainly shaped, particularly in its early 'foundation' period, by three sets of factors: 1
• the constellation of actors, interests, strategies, the 'will and skill' of relevant actors;
• the institutional 'starting conditions' impinging upon the take-off of the transformation process as 'endogenous' factors, including the institutional and cognitive 'legacies' from the communist past which can amount to 'path-dependencies' that shape the further institutional trajectory;
• and external ('exogenous') factors (such as actors, political pressure, but also ideas 'from outside') impacting on the institutional development.

This conceptualisation of the institutional transformation can be related to 'neo-institutionalism', 2 the 'historical variant of which tends to turn the analytical lens at the institutional and cognitive legacies and its structural imprints, while its 'actor-centred' variant would be inclined to analytically concentrate on actor constellations and their 'voluntaristic' discretion and situational contingency.


EAST GERMANY-A UNIQUE CASE (SONDERFALL) OF INSTITUTIONAL TRANSFORMATION?

Institutional Transformation in East Germany: A Case of Exogenous Determination?

In analysing and discussing the institutional transformation of post-socialist countries, East Germany has been interpreted as a specific, if not unique case (Sonderfall).3 This is because in East Germany the collapse of the

Hellmut Wollmann, Humboldt University-Berlin

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