Political Epistemics: The Secret Police, the Opposition, and the End of East German Socialism

Political Epistemics: The Secret Police, the Opposition, and the End of East German Socialism

by Andreas Glaeser
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226297934

ISBN-13: 9780226297934

Pub. Date: 04/15/2011

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

What does the durability of political institutions have to do with how actors form knowledge about them? Andreas Glaeser investigates this question in the context of a fascinating historical case: socialist East Germany’s unexpected self-dissolution in 1989. His analysis builds on extensive in-depth interviews with former secret police officers and the

…  See more details below

Overview

What does the durability of political institutions have to do with how actors form knowledge about them? Andreas Glaeser investigates this question in the context of a fascinating historical case: socialist East Germany’s unexpected self-dissolution in 1989. His analysis builds on extensive in-depth interviews with former secret police officers and the dissidents they tried to control as well as research into the documents both groups produced. In particular, Glaeser analyzes how these two opposing factions’ understanding of the socialist project came to change in response to countless everyday experiences. These investigations culminate in answers to two questions: why did the officers not defend socialism by force? And how was the formation of dissident understandings possible in a state that monopolized mass communication and group formation? He also explores why the Stasi, although always well informed about dissident activities, never developed a realistic understanding of the phenomenon of dissidence.

Out of this ambitious study, Glaeser extracts two distinct lines of thought. On the one hand he offers an epistemic account of socialism’s failure that differs markedly from existing explanations. On the other hand he develops a theory—a sociology of understanding—that shows us how knowledge can appear validated while it is at the same time completely misleading.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226297934
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
04/15/2011
Series:
Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning Series
Pages:
640
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Understandings, Politics, and Institutions

I Socialism as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy—The Party’s Project

1 From Marx to Conscious Social Transformation

2 Aporias of Producing Right Consciousness

II Contingencies and Dynamics of Understanding—The Theory

3 Constituting Understandings through Validations

4 Dialectics in Spaces of Validation

III Becoming Socialist Men—The Stasi Officers

5 Guardians of the Party State

6 Stasi Culture—Authority, Networks, and Discourses

IV Disenchantment, Disengagement, Opposition—The Dissidents

7 When Someone’s Eden Becomes Another’s Purgatory

8 Forming Groups, Organizing Opposition

V Policing Understandings—Reproducing Misunderstandings

9 Attempting to Know and Control the Opposition

Conclusions: Paralyzing Uncertainties

References

Index

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >