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Acta Slavica Iaponica



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Since the start of post-communist transformations in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), there have been disagreements about the best strategies to follow and policies to implement the reforms.1 Similar disagreements have existed in practical and theoretical interpretations of these transformations. These differences have reflected various and often conflicting understandings of the previous state socialist system, the existing political-economic situation and the nature of post-communist reforms by economists, political scientists, sociologists, historians and members of other disciplines and suggest the complexity, diversity and unpredictability of post-communist developments. Views have also differed significantly within the individual disciplines.

Two basic groups of approaches to the study of post-communist developments in CEE can be recognized. First are the teleological “transition” approaches, also known as “transitology,”2 typically associated with neoliberal and neoclassical economic interpretations. Second are the non-teleological alternative “transformation” interpretations stemming from evolutionary and institutional economics, the analysis of networks of economic embeddedness, and Marxist political economy and regulation theory. The view of recent changes in CEE as transformations rather than transitions emphasizes actual processes rather than destinations3 and it differs from the neoliberal and neoclassical notion of transitions dominated by the theoretical agenda of modernization theory.4Proponents of “transitology” argue that economies of CEE countries are undergo

ing a relatively unproblematic shift from a command to a capitalist economy and from communism to democracy. The analyses and critique of “transitology” have been carried out elsewhere.5 The goal of this paper is to review and evaluate select alternative theoretical interpretations and approaches to the CEE post-communist transformations in light of my research in the region.

Before turning to alternative explanations of post-communist transformations in CEE, I begin with a brief evaluation of the early “transitology” based on the results of my own research in the Czech Republic in the first half of the 1990s in order to complement existing critical analyses. Next is a discussion of recombinant property in the context of privatization and property ownership transformation in CEE. Third, I briefly review the concept of path dependency and its importance for understanding the developments since the collapse of state socialism in CEE. Fourth is a discussion of network analysis in the context of post-communist economic transformation and regional development. Fifth, I briefly analyze Marxist political economy approaches, including the neo-Marxist “transition from state to private capitalism thesis” and the Marxist analysis of production processes. Sixth, I review regulation theory and its approaches to state socialism and post-communist transformations. Finally, I summarize the main findings in the conclusion.


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