Theoretical approaches to post-communist transformations in Europe

Authored by: Raj Kollmorgen

The Routledge International Handbook of European Social Transformations

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472477941
eBook ISBN: 9781315612942
Adobe ISBN:


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The radical changes in the European state-socialist societies after 1989 have posed a challenge to the social sciences and theoretical research. This contribution provides a structured and critical-reflexive overview of theoretical efforts in the field of post-communist transformation studies. After providing a general survey of theoretical strands applied to the post-communist changes (from the civil society approach to interpretative action theories to the transition approach and consolidation research), four prominent and influential theoretical approaches are presented in greater detail and are critically discussed: modernisation theories, neo-classic economics, the political governance approach, and the post-communism approach. Against this background, the advancements and achievements of post-communist theoretical work are dealt with. This summary encompasses the discussion of two generations in theory building before 2010, with their specific perspectives and (re-)conceptualisations, as well as the elaboration of focal points and theoretical-methodological orientations required for substantial transformation studies. The final section discusses challenges and prospects of a (possible) third theory generation. Three aspects are emphasised: the contested design of holistic theoretical approaches, the increasing historicisation of the research object and the current rise in concepts of co-transformation and post-transformation.

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