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Post-Communist Democratization: Political Discourses Across Thirteen Countries

Overview

The study of the democratic transitions of former Communist states has been fertile ground for students of politics. This book provides a novel "ground up" perspective by examining the ways in which ordinary people have viewed and responded to democracy. Examining a number of countries at different stages of transition, they argue that democracy has been understood differently in different places and with varying levels of approval. The authors define their research within the context of each country's history ...
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Overview

The study of the democratic transitions of former Communist states has been fertile ground for students of politics. This book provides a novel "ground up" perspective by examining the ways in which ordinary people have viewed and responded to democracy. Examining a number of countries at different stages of transition, they argue that democracy has been understood differently in different places and with varying levels of approval. The authors define their research within the context of each country's history and relate their analysis to future prospects for reform.
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Editorial Reviews

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

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.
Booknews
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 (booknews.com)
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Product Details

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

Part I. Introductory: 1. The discourses of democratic transition; 2. Methodology; Part II. Pre-Transition Countries: 3. China; 4. Yugoslavia; Part III. Halting Transitions: 5. Belarus; 6. Russia; 7. Ukraine; Part IV. Transition Torn by War: 8. Armenia; 9. Georgia; 10. Moldova; Part V. Late Developers: 11. Slovakia; 12. Romania; 13. Bulgaria; Part VI. Trailblazers: 14. Poland; 15. Czechia; Part VII. Conclusions: 16. Differences that matter - and those that do not.
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