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This post is provided by guest blogger André Förster who studies the Masters program “Sociology and empirical social Research” at the University of Cologne. Alongside his studies, he works as a student assistant at gesis – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne.

book cover

Mark R. Beissinger, 2002: Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

In this important book Mark R. Beissinger, director of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS) and former professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison sets out to explain how the collapse of the Soviet State  became viewed from the impossible to the inevitable within only a few years. While many studies refer to the inherent logic of the communist system as the main reason for its disintegration, Beissinger highlights the importance of nationalist events that took place during the years 1987 to 1991. Based on rich quantitative and qualitative data, the author argues that the tidal impact of these demonstration and protest events and their cross-country influence shaped a phase of history, in which institutions were changed not as the result of an inherent logic, but rather through the whole process itself.

Beissinger’s book offers a very productive combination of transnational and comparative sociological analysis. In the following review, I will focus on the second and fifth chapter of the book, in which Beissinger explains how the transnational glasnost tide of nationalism evolved and why some movements of nationalism succeded while others failed. On the basis of Beissinger’s analysis I will show that the development and the success of nationalist movements can be explained from a transnational perspective, whereas the failure of movements can rather be explained from a comparative view. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part two of a mini-series dedicated to the fascinating institutional landscape found on the Eastern edge of the European Union. It deals with the dearth of the public sector and the rejuvenation of religion.

Someone must have built all this infrastructure which now lies decaying throughout Eastern Europe. It bears the signs of more than twenty years of decay, so almost certainly it was the governments of the Warsaw Pact which paved the roads to the majority of villages, laid tracks between cities, erected gargantuan grain silos and stamped huge factory complexes out of the ground.

Yet many of today’s Eastern European states have too few resources (or hardly any at all) to provide the public infrastructure necessary for success in the game of capitalist competition. And, as regards the private sector, the current mode of production knows no place for means of production accumulated under the Five-Year-Plans of yesteryear.

The new European Union member states Romania and Bulgaria show many signs that transnational institutions can catalyse the development of infrastructure; while Ukraine and Moldova demonstrate the counterpoint of the damage that lack of investment by the public sector can do. All the while, across the border between the two worlds – at least that is how the border between EU and non-EU can feel, and is locally perceived – the church consoles the post-socialist sorrows of the masses. Read the rest of this entry »

When we write about such phenomena as governance across borders, our conceptualisation always hinges on dividing lines, those borders which governance may span. Especially for a research group working on transnational institutions, it’s important to contemplate: What do borders really mean?

The reality of borders takes on a wholly different dimension when leaving the comfort of Western Europe, with its checkpoint-free border crossings. Travelling along Europe’s (still somewhat wild) Eastern frontier, the significance of national boundaries and the institutions that sometimes do, sometimes don’t span them, is illuminated starkly, highlighting what one takes for granted.

Here, I’ll be sharing some – hopefully not too wanton – snapshots and insights into the fascinating institutional landscape which I encountered during some recent travels. Read the rest of this entry »

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
August 2019
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