This article unravels the seeming paradox of how civil societies like that of Poland, which were strong enough to play a critical role in the collapse of communist regimes, could now have become weak It argues that four factors explain civil society's enfeeblement after the end of the old regime. Two of these are attributable to the logic of Poland's first transition (demobilization of insurgent civil society by pact and decapitation through success). The other two are generic to post-communist democratization (the residual effects of post-totalitarianism and the social consequences of economic transformation). It concludes with a discussion of whether these factors are transitory or long-term and what the ramifications of a weak civil society are for a fledgling democracy.
Civil Society after the First Transition: Dilemmas of Post-communist Democratization in Poland and Beyond
The author wishes to thank Lee Ann Banaszak, Heather G. Casey, Barbara Hicks, John Martz, David Ost, and Larry Staff for their perceptive comments on earlier drafts of this article. The deficiencies that remain are wholly the responsibility of the author. Materials for this article were collected on a visit to Poland supported in part-by grants from IREX (with funds provided by the US Department of State [Title VIII]) and the Joint Committee on Eastern Europe of the ACLS and the SSRC. and at Penn -State by the Office of International Cooperative Programs, the Department of Political Science, and the Center for Russian and East European Studies. None of these organizations are responsible for the views expressed.
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Michael Bernhard; Civil Society after the First Transition: Dilemmas of Post-communist Democratization in Poland and Beyond. Communist and Post-Communist Studies 1 September 1996; 29 (3): 309–330. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/s0967-067X(96)00009-8
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