Solidarity, Identity and the Contest of Democracy in Central-Eastern Europe

TitleSolidarity, Identity and the Contest of Democracy in Central-Eastern Europe
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsGreskovits, B.
Journal titleLabor History
Pages89 - 96

This article discusses David Ost's book The Defeat of Solidarity: Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe. The author contends that scholars focusing on East Europe, including Ost, should pay more attention to social inclusion, identity politics, & democratic quality. First, the author believes that Ost does not take into account the diverse connections between solidarity, identity & politics within the postcommunist market economies. For example, the market-radical Baltic states offer little social protection & state assistance, whereas large welfare expenditures lead to fiscal instability in Poland & Hungary. Second, Ost underestimates the power of non-economic ideas, such as religion & nationalism, in East Europe, according to the author. Such passions could be politically powerful even before economic trouble emerged. Finally, the author disagrees with Ost's depiction of Poland as a country where social solidarity has been lost. In fact, the author considers Polish elites as the most socially sensitive political class within the East European countries. Tables, References. A. Kallioinen


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Department of International Relations