goncharov, dmitry

Postcommunist Uncivicness: Syndrome of Anti-Modern Society

The proposed paper is to discuss how Postcommunist social and cultural evolution affects the modernization perspectives in the Postcommunist (particularly, Post-Soviet) societies.

• End of the civil society paradigm in democratization studies?  It was expected that social forces emancipated from the totalitarian grip would be able to restore the structure of civil society.  But rather soon these expectations were replaced by the notion which stressed the “weakness” of the Postcommunist civil society.  It is weak, indeed.  But the mere statement of the fact does not provide us with a proper understanding of how Postcommunist societies work.  To solve this problem we have to move beyond Postcommunist fragile civil sphere – in societal domains where non-civil structures and practices proliferate. 

• Postcommunist civil society: uncivil limitations and uncivic constraints.  Postcommunist civil society faces a lot of troubles.  Some of them are related to numerous social networks dependent on particularistic (uncivil) forms of solidarity (corruption, organized crime, etc.); others – to a deep atomization resulted from totalitarian past.  Finally, there are political strategies employing by the Postcommunist hybrid regimes (mostly, different forms of electoral authoritarianism), which is a dominant regime type in the Post-Soviet world.  Hybrid regimes have to tolerate some political/social competition,  but they spare no effort to undermine structures of social self-organization using a broad array of the “low coercion” instruments: legal and bureaucratic barriers to autonomous civil and political activities, state-controlled system of quasi-civil activism, patronage, etc. 

• Toward a social trap.  Anti-civic political strategies have serious cultural and institutional consequences (domination of the informal institutions built on structures of particularistic solidarity, social capital decline, and further atomization) that facilitate proliferation of the social trap structures within many of Postcommunist societies.  Such settings (marked with dramatic institutional ineffectiveness and cultural decay) cause severe damage to the processes of societal development, making a continuation of Communist context of anti-modern society (resulted from abortive attempt to present an alternative form of “a good society”, as contrasted with the Western model of societal evolution).

Thursday 25 October 10:15-12:15 Panels IV, Panel 10 Social Welfare and Civil Society in Transformation (Hall 7)