Post-Communist Democratization: Political Discourses Across Thirteen Countries / Edition 1

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Democracy is not just a matter of constitutions, parliaments, elections, parties, and the rule of law. In order to see if or how democracy works, we must attend to what people make of it, and what they think they are doing as they engage with politics, or as politics engages them. This book examines the way democracy and democratization are thought about and lived by people in China, Russia, and eleven other countries in the post-communist world. It shows how democratic politics (and sometimes authoritarian politics) works in these countries, and generates insights into the prospects for different kinds of political development. The authors explore the implications for what is probable and possible in terms of trajectories of political reform, and examine four roads to democratization: liberal, republican, participatory, and statist. The book will be of interest to students and scholars of comparative politics, political theory, and post-communist studies.
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Editorial Reviews

Foreign Affairs
What the people of a country make of democracy will presumably have something to do with whether or not democracy is possible. Yet most scholars have been preoccupied with institutional design, the politics of reform, and theories of transition; few have bothered to study the views of those the new order is to be "of, by, and for." Dryzek and Holmes fill the void. They reveal the way crucial attitudes toward democracy are distributed among the populations of countries ranging from China to Poland, including Russia and a number of post-Soviet states. These multipart profiles offer useful and sometimes surprising insights into this grassroots dimension of democratization: for example, in authoritarian Belarus the different mindsets may be less of an obstacle to democracy than commonly assumed, and Bulgaria ranks with Poland and the Czech Republic as among the most favored. Their study, however, concerns the content and configuration of attitudes, not their relative popularity — hence an important piece of the puzzle remains to be added.
Dryzek (social and political theory, Australian National U.) and Holmes (political science, U. of Melbourne, Australia) examine how democracy and democratization is conceptualized and lived by political activists and ordinary people in post-communist societies. Noting that democracy is often described as a universally approved concept, as long as one doesn't inquire too closely as to what democracy is, they examine the varied interpretations of what constitutes the essence of democracy. Further they suggest that there are significant groups that ascribe negative connotations to the term itself. Separate accounts are given of Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, China, Czechia, Georgia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"Useful and sometimes surprising insights..." Foreign Affairs

"This interesting and frequently provocative volume is sure to appeal to readers interested in whether democracy is likely to take root and flourish in postcommunist-ruled societies. Recommended." Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521001380
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2010
  • Series: Theories of Institutional Design Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John Dryzek is Professor of Social and Political Theory in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. He has also taught at the Universities of Oregon and Melbourne. He is the author of a number of books on environmental politics and democracy, most recently Deliberative Democracy and Beyond (2000), and Democracy in Capitalist Times (1996).

Leslie Holmes is Professor of Political Science at the University of Melbourne. His recent books are Post-communism (1997) and The End of Communist Power (1993).

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations
A note on authorship credit
Pt. I Introduction 1
1 The discourses of democratic transition 3
2 Methodology 20
Pt. II Pre-transition countries 31
3 China 33
4 Yugoslavia 57
Pt. III Halting transitions 77
5 Belarus 79
6 Russia 92
7 Ukraine 114
Pt. IV Transition torn by war 131
8 Armenia 133
9 Georgia 147
10 Moldova 158
Pt. V Late developers 171
11 Slovakia 173
12 Romania 190
13 Bulgaria 206
Pt. VI Trailblazers 223
14 Poland 225
15 Czechia 240
Pt. VII Conclusions 253
16 Differences that matter - and those that do not 255
References 274
Index 291
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