Reconceptualizing Transitology: Lessons from Post-Communism
Volume 6, Issue 1 (2008), pp. 181–199
Pub. online: 18 November 2008 Type: Article Open Access
18 November 2008
18 November 2008
After more than a decade when a 'third wave of democratization' struck Central Eastern Europe and post-soviet space, the question is being raised regarding whether the transitional paradigm, shaped two decades ago, did not loose its theoretical and methodological capability? Does it manage to explain the political development of countries in a post communist state and especially in post soviet space?
The classical paradigm of transitology is characterized as having the following traits: (1) an aim to create a universal theory of democratization and the ability to explain processes of democratization in different social contexts; (2) the conviction that democratization is a one-way and gradual process of several phases; (3) an emphasis that the single crucial factor for democratic transition is a decision by the political elite, and not structural features; and (4) the normative belief of neoliberal nature, that the consolidation of the institute of democratic elections and other reforms of its own accord establish effectively functioning states.
This article analyses problems that appeared applying the perspective of transitology for post soviet regime change analysis and critics, shaped on these grounds. The aim is to evaluate the contemporary models of post soviet transitology that emphasize questions of state autonomy and power, examine the interaction of formal and informal institutions, use the concept of 'path dependence', and explain the different results of democratization in post soviet countries. This article will be using an example of Russia to formulate general statements that would contribute to the building of the theory of post soviet change, as well as the practical findings.