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37.2 - Elite Transformation

Special Issue
Mixed Issue
HSR Vol. 37 (2012) No. 2: Special Issue: Political and Functional Elites in Post-Socialist Transformation

Heinrich Best, Ronald Gebauer & Axel Salheiser (Eds.): Political and Functional Elites in Post-Socialist Transformation: Central and East Europe since 1989/90

After the breakdown of Communist regimes in the East at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s unparalleled societal transitory processes have evolved and reshaped the political world map. After two decades, Central and East European societies still have to master difficulties that have been inherited from Socialism or face conditions that are specifically post-Socialist legacies. Moreover, throughout the first decade of the 21st century, international and national crises have drastically challenged the functioning and legitimacy of market economy, representative democracies, and welfare states. New political and social movements have emerged and ignited discourses on the redistribution of power and the renewal of institutions. Today’s Central and East European societies face increasing social inequality, decreasing social mobility, alarming demographical change, and dramatic ecological risks. However, there is a great variety of preconditions, speeds, and paths of developments.

How have representative and functional elites in Central and East Europe affected and been affected by this ‘double’ transformation? Have they found and embraced strategies of change or have they sought ways of persistence? And how do elites react to newly arising social problems? The emergence, the success or failure, and the survival or replacement of elites is closely bound to these questions. Accordingly, this volume focuses on elite continuity and elite discontinuity in the context of societal change observing both past and current post-Socialist developments and, thus, combining historical and contemporary perspectives.