East European Transition
David A. Kideckel
The end of the highly centralized, east European socialist state is an accomplished fact. However, though wheat sheaves, oil derricks, hammers, sickles, and stars, have been ripped from the flags of the east European states, the future of the region is by no means certain. Though economic privatization is the goal toward which all allegedly move, some like Hungarians and Poles do so with dispatch while others, like Romanians and Bulgarians have adopted a clear go-slow approach. Certainly political pluralism is the watchword of the day. Still, recent socialist electoral gains in Poland, Hungary, and eastern Germany, the continued domination of centralizing politics in Romania and along the perimeter of Russia, and the growing unrest from mass migrations, ethnic conflict and the like all force the notion that social change in the region is an open question. The uncertainties of east Europe are rife with possibility, though the pictures offered are as contrasting as a burned out Balkan village and rejuvenated housing complexes from Bucharest to Bratislava. To better understand the likelihood and implications of such possibilities is the main purpose of this volume.
This book and its various contributions, written mainly by anthropologists and rural sociologists with long research and often personal experience in east European communities, addresses a number of shortcomings in our knowledge of east Europe today. Most current studies of the on-going transformation outline state level events and processes, particularly focussing on changing economic and legal systems. For example, one area within this genre concerns problems associated with the increased frequency and intensity of contact between easterners and westerners, whether in the context of economic privatization or the more personal one of the trade in infants. There are a few notable discussions of the transition's effect on the lives of real people, again