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Core Course II: Post-socialist political regimes and socio-economic developments

Dr. Jan Wielgohs (Frankfurt Institute for Transformation Studies - European University Viadrina)


Course Description

Although during the transition period of 1989-1991, „democracy“, „rule of law“ and „market economy“ were declared as general reform goals in all formerly state-socialist countries of Europe and Central Asia, and despite a fundamental break with essential features of communist rule everywhere in the region, post-socialist transformation has produced a broad range of political regimes and socio-economic orders. Today, 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet type societal systems and the Soviet Union itself, Countries that belonged to the Eastern bloc can be found in all regime categories distinguished by Western scholars and think tanks, from “consolidated democracies” to “consolidated authoritarian regimes”. What do these societies have still in common, what is more than their communist past and justifies to label them altogether as “post-socialist”?

The leading theses of this course is that all these societies – characterized by “democracy” or “autocracy”, “neoliberal” or “neo-corporatist” capitalism -  have to cope with problems that can be understood as legacies of either the communist system or the early period of post-socialist transformation. The course offers introductory lectures providing an overlook over general developments, results and problems of political and socio-economic transformation, lectures and seminars on special issues such like particularities of post-socialist party systems, the impact of the recent global crisis on post-socialist economies or theories of transformation and reform. A number of seminars is reserved for students’ presentations dealing with special aspects of current political and social developments.


Basic Literature

Bunce, Valerie, 2008: The Task of Democratic Transition and Transferability. Orbis 52 (1), 25-40.

Crawford, B./ Lijphart. A., 1997: Old Legacies, New Institutions: Explaining Political and Economic Trajectories in Post-Communist Regimes. In: Beverly Crawford and Arend Lijphart (eds.): Liberalization and Leninist Legacies. Berkeley, CA: The Regents of the University of California, 1-39.

EBRD (European Bank of Reconstruction and Development), 2010: Transition Report 2010.

Elster, Jon, 1990: The Necessity and Impossibility of Simultaneous Economic and Political Reform. In: Piotr Ploszajski (Ed.): Philosophy of Social Choice. Warsaw: IFiS Publishers, 309-316/ für deutschsprachige Leser auch: Offe, Claus, 1991: Das Dilemma der Gleichzeitigkeit. Merkur 45 (4), 279-292.

Freedom House, 2010: Nations in Transit 2010.

Jowitt, Ken, 1992: The Leninist Legacy. In: Ken Jowitt: New World Disorder. The Leninist Extinction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 284-305.

Minkenberg, Michael/ Beichelt, Timm (Eds.), 2003: Cultural Lecacies in Post-socialist Europe. Frankfuret (Oder) [contributions of B. Crawford; A. Janos; F.Bönker/ J. Wielgohs)

Orenstein, Mitchell, 2008: Postcommunist Welfare States. Journal of Democracy 19 (4).