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v2.1 Reference

Stubborn Structures

Reconceptualizing Post-Communist Regimes

Edited by Bálint Magyar
Introduction by Henry E. Hale

The editor of this book has brought together contributions designed to capture the essence of post-communist politics in East-Central Europe and Eurasia. Rather than on the surface structures of nominal democracies, the nineteen essays focus on the informal, often intentionally hidden, disguised and illicit understandings and arrangements that penetrate formal institutions. These phenomena often escape even the best-trained outside observers, familiar with the concepts of established democracies. Contributors to this book share the view that understanding post-communist politics is best served by a framework that builds from the ground up, proceeding from a fundamental social context.

The book aims at facilitating a lexical convergence; in the absence of a robust vocabulary for describing and discussing these often highly complex informal phenomena, the authors wish to advance a new terminology of post-communist regimes. Instead of a finite dictionary, a kind of conceptual cornucopia is offered. The resulting variety reflects a larger harmony of purpose that can significantly expand the understanding the "real politics" of post-communist regimes.

Countries analyzed from a variety of aspects, comparatively or as single case studies, include Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.

About the Authors

Bálint Magyar is Research Fellow at CEU's Democracy Institute, working on the subject of patronalism in post-communist countries.

He was a member of the Hungarian Parliament (1990-2010). As a Minister of Education (1996-1998; 2002-2006) he initiated and carried out reforms in public and higher education.

Henry E. Hale is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University.


"The Hungarian sociologist Bálint Magyar, who created the concept of the 'post-Communist mafia state,' has just finished editing a new collection of articles called 'Stubborn Structures: Reconceptualizing Post-Communist Regimes' (to be published by C.E.U. Press early this year). In one of his own pieces in the collection, using Russia as an example, Magyar describes the Mafia state as one run by a 'patron' and his 'court'—put another way, the boss and his clan—who appropriate public resources and the institutions of the state for their private use and profit."—New Yorker

"All in all, this is a wonderful collection of essays, a fertile marriage between Hale and Magyar with many splendid applications of their theories to many interesting countries and far-reaching implications for countries beyond the former USSR and East European post-communist world, and not only for China, but also for the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and the emergent trend to limit the separation of branches of power even in countries we normally label as liberal democracies (like Trump's vision of the United States)."—Theory and Society

"Auf der politischen Ebene diskutiert der Band die Genese und die Funktionsweisen au-toritärer Herrschaft im Postkommunismus. Die Wege führten nach 1989/91 nicht in die Demokratie, aber es ging doch weiter in Richtung Divergenz. Die Uniformität der kommunistischen Ära ist in unserer autoritären Epoche passé. Dennoch sind die politischen Systeme der Region auf unterschiedliche Weise durch patrimoniale Strukturen, regionale Clans" und fehlende Rechtsstaatlichkeit geprägt. Die enge Steue-rung politischer Parteien, die Kontrolle von Wahlen und die Zensur treten als weitere Merkmale hervor. Ein weiterer Schwerpunkt des Bandes liegt in der Analyse postkommunistischer Wirt-schaftsstrukturen. Wiederum zeigt sich das Erbe der Vergangenheit: einerseits in der Kon-tinuität der Eliten und andererseits in der engmaschigen Verknüpfung zwischen Macht und (prekärem) Eigentum. Als Gemeinsamkeit lässt sich die Entstehung von Rentenökonomien beobachten, deren Erträge insbesondere der politischen Klasse und ihren Verbündeten zu-fließen."—Journal of East Central European Studies

"All contributors, apart from Hale, come from post-communist countries, making this edited volume a forum for scholars with a deep personal knowledge of the region and an eye for details that may well escape an outside observer... A significant attempt to advance the understanding of post-communist regimes and an ambitious step towards a new conceptual framework to better describe countries increasingly thought to be no longer in transition to democracy."—Levan Kakhisvili, Europe-Asia Studies

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