In addition to forever changing the lives of hundreds of millions of people, the collapse of communism presented a unique opportunity to social scientists, especially to political scientists. Almost thirty countries suddenly found themselves in the midst of a “transition” at approximately the same time and with at least one very strikingly similar precondition: decades of communist rule. For people who study comparative politics, it is harder to think of a better research background. This review focuses on five areas of scholarship that are related to the emergence of democracy in eastern Europe. The first examines the actual process of democratization, from the literature on the collapse of communism to the emergence of what followed it. The second then looks at the opinions held by citizens in these newly democratic states—toward democracy itself, economic and social policies, their new political institutions, and what would become the future for most of the region: membership in the European Union (EU). The next section covers the activity that distinguishes new democracies most clearly from their predemocratic regime types: elections and voting. The fourth section examines the other ways that citizens in post-communist countries have made their views heard, through social movements in protests. The final section concludes with what has been perhaps the most pressing policy issue faced in the post-communist political space since the 1990s, which is the question of post-communist economic reform.
The Collapse of Communism and Questions of Transition
The first question tackled by the new field of post-communist politics was arguably the last one to be considered by studies of communism: Why exactly did communism collapse? Large debates in the field include the extent to which this was preordained by inherent tensions within communist regimes or whether it was due to specific developments and decisions that were inevitable, which particular tensions within communism were responsible for its demise, and why collapse occurred when it did. Following the collapse of communism, the immediate question arose of what came next. Claus Offe famously referred to this as the specter of a “triple transition,” including liberalization/democratization, the settling of borders (i.e., the making and breaking of states), and economic reform. The first two—liberalization/democratization and the making and breaking of states—are addressed in this section; the issue of economic reform is taken up in the final section on Post-Communist Political Economy.
LAST MODIFIED: 11/29/2011
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions and individuals. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email email@example.com to express your interest.
- Advanced Democracies, Electoral System Reform in
- Advanced Democracies, Public Opinion and Public Policy in
- Advertising and Election Campaigns in the United States
- Africa, Comparative Politics of
- Arab-Israel Conflict, The
- Arendt, Hannah
- Australia and New Zealand, Comparative Politics of
- Bicameralism in Stable Democracies
- Brazilian Political Development
- Channels of Electoral Representation in Advanced Industria...
- China's One-Child Policy
- China-Taiwan Relations
- Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Civil-Military Relations in Latin America
- Comparative Capitalism Theory
- Cosmopolitan Political Thought
- Crisis of European Integration in Historical Perspective, ...
- Democracy and Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Democracy and Dictatorship in Central Asia
- Democratic Citizenship
- Democratic Peace Theory
- Democratization in Central America
- Development of Survey Research
- East Africa, Politics of
- Eurasia, Comparative Politics of
- European Social Democracy
- European Union, Politics of the
- Failed and Weak States in Theory and Practice
- Federalism in the United States
- Filibuster, The
- Global Inequality
- Governance in Africa
- Immigrant Incorporation in Canada
- Impact of Campaign Contributions on Congressional Behavior...
- Income Dynamics and Politics in North America and Europe
- Indigenous Rights and Governance in Canada, Australia, and...
- Intellectual Property in International Relations
- Interest Groups in American Politics
- International Conflict Management
- International Political Economy of Illegal Drugs
- Iran, Political Development of
- Israeli Politics
- Judicial Supremacy and National Judicial Review
- Latin America, Democratic Transitions in
- Latin America, Environmental Policy and Politics in
- Latin America, Guerrilla Insurgencies in
- Latin America, Social Movements in
- Legal Mobilization
- Local Governments in the United States
- Mechanisms of Representation
- Media Effects in Politics
- Modern Elections and Voting Behavior in Europe
- NATO, Politics of
- North America, Comparative Politics of
- Oil, Politics of
- Partisan Polarization in the US Electorate
- Party Networks
- Political Thought of the American Founders, The
- Politics and Policy in Contemporary Argentina
- Politics of Higher Education in the U.S.
- Politics of Natural Disasters, The
- Post-Communist Democratization
- Preferential Trade Agreements, Politics of
- Public Opinion in Advanced Industrial Democracies
- Public Opinion in New Democracies and Developing Nations
- Regime Transitions and Variation in Post-Communist Europe
- Regional Security
- State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Supreme Court of the United States, The
- Taiwan, Politics of
- Tea Party, The
- Transitional Justice
- US Military Bases Abroad
- Welfare State Development
- West Africa, Politics of
- Worker Politics in China