Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Social Aspects of Transformation

Cerami, Alfio (2015): Social Aspects of Transformation. Published in: Cerami, Alfio (2015) ‘Social Aspects of Transformation’ in Wolchik, Sharon L. and Curry, Jane Leftwich, eds., Central and East European Politics From Communism to Democracy – Third Edition, Washington DC: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 99-120.

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The fall of the Berlin Wall marked not the end of the transition to democracy but its beginning, with still uncertain outcomes in terms of electoral continuity and change. In order to provide a more comprehensive picture of the regime vulnerabilities and instabilities that stem from the difficult transition from a centrally planned, authoritarian economy to a free market–oriented democracy, this paper discusses the most important aspects of the transformation that has occurred in Central and Eastern Europe since the end of communism. These aspects include key patterns of social change, social welfare, social problems, and associated social pathologies. Understanding what worked and what went wrong in the social policy domain will improve our understanding of the prospects for future and more successful reforms in this region, as well as in other transitional and developing countries currently on the road to democracy. The first section of this paper provides a brief overview of the key patterns of social change, including social welfare, social problems, and social pathologies, as well citizens’ adaptation to the new environment. The second section discusses similarities and differences among countries in order to understand what policy options have been more successful and why. The third section complements this analysis by addressing ten areas where we can learn from previous mistakes.

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