Over a decade has passed since the collapse of communism, yet post-communist citizens are still far less likely to join voluntary organizations than people from other countries. Why do post-communist citizens mistrust public organizations? What explains this pattern of weak civil society? And what does this mean for democracy in the region? This engaging study addresses these questions with a provocative argument about the enduring impact of the communist experience on its countries and citizens. Howard argues that the experience of mandatory participation in state-controlled organizations and vibrant private networks during the communist period, combined with the disappointment with post-communist developments, have left most citizens with a lasting aversion to public activities. Howard analyzes the findings from over 30 democratic countries on the World Values Survey and also presents extensive and original evidence from his own research, focused on Eastern Germany and Russia.
• The book examines civil society in a broad comparative perspective • It uses both qualitative (interpretive) and quantitative (statistical)methods • It is based on a tremendous amount of primary research conducted by the author
1. Introduction; 2. An experiential approach to societal continuity and change; 3. Civil society and democratization; 4. An empirical baseline: post-communist civil society in comparative perspective; 5. Explaining organizational membership: a statistical test of alternative hypotheses; 6. Why post-communist citizens do not join organizations: an interpretive analysis; 7. Conclusion.
'This book is a major achievement: a multi-method, cross-national study of civil society that demonstrates the decisive impact of Leninist rule on the post-communist world. After reading Marc Howard's book, I am convinced that the differences between the political experience of the post-communist countries of Europe and the post-authoritarian states of Latin America are not merely differences of degree but differences of kind. Howard's study will surely become a standard work for students of civil society and democracy.' Jeffrey Kopstein, University of Toronto
'Marc Howard has presented the most systematic and convincing evidence to date that the Eastern European 'post-communist' countries, despite their seemingly diverse trajectories since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, continue to share deep and abiding cultural similarities rooted in their common experience of Leninist dictatorship. At the same time, he brings fresh insight to the age-old debate about the role of civil society in democratic consolidation. Anyone interested in the future of Europe in the 21st century should read this book.' Stephen Hanson, University of Washington
'In his superb study, Howard manages to link democratization studies, theorizing on civil society, and the debate on social capital. He blends quantitative and qualitative data into an end product that will be a 'must' for students of post-Communist Europe. A rare and enviable success.' Claus Offe, Humboldt, University zu Berlin
'A wonderful book! Marc Howard has taken a subject we all care about … and written a major account of the problem. Drawing upon the systematic comparative evidence, including opinion polls and in-depth interviews … Howard demonstrates that the quality of democracy in these states is directly related to their citizens' experiences under communist rule. Among these experiences, Howard emphasizes the previous regimes' systemic inability to provide needed social and economic goods and the corresponding centrality of personal connections in addressing these needs. Although Howard's predictions about the post-communist future are by no means gloomy, he stands out among many observers in concluding that citizens' membership in public organizations and their participation in civic life will not necessarily grow in lock step with the improvement of political and economic conditions. I found the argument to be completely convincing.' A. James McAdams, University of Notre Dame