Claus Offe has spent most of his career analyzing the inner workings (and nonworkings) of Western democracies. After the upheavals of the late 1980s, however, his attention was drawn increasingly to the East, and particularly to the transformations occurring in the former German Democratic Republic.The nine essays collected here, all written within the last few years, report what Offe has learned. They explore such topics as the characteristics and shortcomings of state socialist societies and of democratic capitalism, the role of ethnic politics in East European transitions, issues of retribution and restitution in the transition to a democratic society based on a private economy, and the effects the collapse of Communism have had on Western democracies and on the Left in particular. Three essays focus on the "special path" to capitalism followed by the former GDR, including a fascinating comparison betewen post-1945 West Germany and post-1989 East Germany.
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In recent years the countries of eastern Europe have been undergoing a process of rapid social and political transformation. This process has brought with it common problems experienced on different levels: economic crisis, growing social insecurity and injustice, ethnic conflicts and civil strife. In addition, post-communist societies have encountered political, legal and social difficulties in coming to term with their own past.
In this book, Claus Offe provides a lucid and insightful account of this complex process of transformation. In a wide-ranging discussion he analyses the problems brought about by the creation of new political and economic orders in the countries of central and eastern Europe, and argues that the way forward is to build and consolidate a new democratic polity, a new economy, and a new conception of nationhood capable of absorbing ethnic conflict.
He examines the comparatively straightforward - but nonetheless extremely rocky - 'special path' to capitalism followed by the former German Democratic Republic, and analyzes the effects which the collapse of communism has had on western democracies.
Varieties of Transition will be welcomed by students and researchers in a wide range of disciplines including politics, sociology, European Studies, German Studies and modern history.About the Author:
Claus Offe has researched and lectured widely throughout Europe and North America and is Professor in the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Bielefeld.
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