Authority and Expectation: A Social History of the Communist Dictatorships in Central Europe
Since 2004 when eight countries from the Eastern side of the previous Iron Curtain entered the European Union, the state and conditions of coming to terms with the legacies of their dictatorial pasts have become a crucial question and come to the fore of public interest. In spite of the utmost relevance of the question, we still know very little about the characteristics of those societies that recently entered the European Union. Most descriptions and interpretations on Central Europe regularly focus on party politics, ideology and elite policy making or formalistic macro-structural analysis. We still possess a profoundly fragmented knowledge not really different from the ideological tenets of the communist parties themselves on the culture and mentality of the population and its different social groups during the subsistence of communist regimes.
The subject of the proposed research is the social mechanisms of justifying and maintaining the communist dictatorships in Central Europe. The purpose, however, is not to merely pursue the tradition of looking for the social reasons for supporting the one-party regimes or the practices of adaptation to the new circumstances. Communist systems that began to dominate the countries of the region between Germany and the Soviet Union during the first years that succeeded the end of the armed conflict aimed at the creation of a new type of society that would replace the old bourgeois structures. Communism was a deeply utopian project of civilization that sought to re-shape the everyday life, customs, habits and attitudes of its citizens. In order to appropriately address the process, one has to concentrate on the interactions, overlaps, modifications and complementary effects that prevailed between the ideological intentions of the political centre and the traditional structures, mentality and behavioural patterns of their societies. The proposed research would offer a new understanding of the communist dictatorships based upon the investigation of the mutual interaction due to which central authority and social expectations legitimated each other.
- Institute of Ethnology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava
- Institute of Economic and Social History, Charles University, Prague
- Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
- Péter Apor, co-ordinator
- Michal Pullmann (Prague)
- Pavel Kola? (Potsdam)
- L'ubica Herzánová (Bratislava)
- Zuzana Búriková (Bratislava)
- Malgorzata Mazurek (Warsaw)
- Sándor Horváth (Budapest)
- György Majtényi (Budapest)
- 1st workshop, 10-11 May 2007, Bratislava
- 2nd workshop, 21-22 June 2007, Bratislava