Modes of Opposition Leading to Revolution in Eastern Europe
With the exception of a handful of books on Poland, work by a few Western social scientists on factories in Hungary, and the studies of two notable anthropologists who worked in Romania, essentially no social history of the post-World War II period comparable to the work that has been done for twenty years or more in the West exists concerning Eastern Europe before 1989. The most obvious reason for this is that the communist regimes forbade such work, since the findings of any real social science were likely to undermine the claims of the vanguard party. The entire sociology department of Charles University in Prague was disbanded after 1968, and in Bulgaria the field of anthropology is a post-1989 product. The primacy of the cold war paradigm also hindered the development of investigations in the West that were not overtly political or economic. Even Western interest in the democratic opposition in Eastern Europe tended to lead to theoretical constructs, such as the widespread use of the concept of civil society, rather than to concrete research into the sociological ingredients of this opposition.
I begin with this disclaimer because I am about to make an argument that, with the exception of Poland, the revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe were not social revolutions in the way we have thought of them in the past. Whether this view is a construct of the data, or rather the lack of
From George Reid Andrews and Herrick Chapman, eds., The Social Construction of Democracy, 1870- 1990 ( New York: New York University Press, 1995), pp. 241-263. Reprinted by permission.