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Session Overview
RN36_02a_P: Social transformations: East and West
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Elena Danilova, Institute of Sociology RAS
Location: PE.6.41
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: E, Level: 6.

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The Divergence of the Post-Communist Welfare State. The Growing Differences Between the Welfare State in CEE and the Rest of the EU

Gavin John Rae

Kozminski University, Poland

This paper builds upon previous research carried on welfare state models in Central Eastern Europe and analyses how they are connected to other social indicators. Most studies looking at the post-Communist welfare states in CEE tended to find that the they do not fit with the Esping-Andersen typologies (Deacon 2000; Fenger 2007; Rys 2001; Sengoku 2004) Our previous analysis has tested to what extent convergence has occurred and/or whether a distinct post-Communist welfare typology is discernible, over 10 years after the eastern enlargement of the EU. (Piotrowska and Rae, 2016) We did this through carrying out a cluster analysis at two dates: 2004 and 2014, following as close as possible the method and choice of variables used by Saint Arnaud and Bernard (2003) and replicated by Fenger (2007).

Contrary to previous hypotheses we have found no evidence of the post-Communist EU states converging with the Esping-Andersen models. Also, we have found a distinct post-Communist welfare model, with its own identifiable features, which has actually strengthened over the past decade.

In order to further this research we have carried out an analysis of how the post-Communist welfare model in the EU coexists with chosen social and economic indicators. This allows us to expand our understanding of the post-Communist welfare state as we can include data that does not fit into a cluster analysis. These socio-economic indicators include such things as social well-being, outcomes of welfare policy (e.g. health and education); infrastructure and its possible degradation; and universal access to benefits and services (decommodification and stratification).

Social capital in the Eastern European peripheries

Tomasz Zarycki

University of Warsaw, Poland

First, the paper will try to present an overview of a broad range of criticisms of the theory social capital, including its highly normative nature, cultural biases and questionable assumptions about its nature, sources, and effects, in particular in the economic life. Moreover, the paper will refer to the institutional and political contexts of the rise of the notion of social capital as a popular policy notion in recent decades. These broader questions will be then linked to the well-known issues of the low levels of its indicators in countries of the region, in particular in Poland, which will be seen as a peripheral area in the context of the world-system theory. As it will be argued, the measurements of the social capital in the region and discussions on its inadequate levels in most of the countries of the Eastern and Central Europe may be seen as an element of its orientalization and as a tool of legitimization of its dependence on the Western core. These issues will be related to the problems of measurement and interpretation of levels and nature informality in the region, which have been recently discussed in diverse venues. As it will be argued, these critiques of the application of the theory of social capital as well as the standard models of informality and corruption in Central and Eastern Europe may appear useful in reflexive development of these approaches on the global level and at the same time point to important normative restriction on reconstruction of the nature of social relations in the region.

Cultural Political Economy of East European Capitalisms

Borut Roncevic

School of Advanced Social Studies, Slovenia

Almost three decades since the beginning of historic transformations in a vast East European space provides us with ample empirical evidence to study mechanisms and processes of emergence and continuous transformations of a variety of East European capitalisms. In our analysis, we will employ the Cultural Political Economy (CPE) approach, focusing on semiotic mechanisms of their discursive constitution and material reproduction. In CPE, an instance of (national) capitalism can be identified as a successful materialization of economic imaginary, a semiotic order of specific discourses and resulting set of social practices. The first mechanism is the variation of discourses and practices, providing alternative paths at critical points in time. The second is the selection of particular discourses, a process of privileging some discourses over the others by interpreting and legitimizing key aspects of relevant social phenomena. The third is the retention of resonant discourses, a process in which those discourses and practices are included in individual and collective routines and identities, in widely accepted strategies, state projects and are even materialized in physical environment. The fourth is the reinforcement of these discourses, by filtering out inappropriate alternatives and promotion of complementary discourses. Finally, these mechanisms are enhanced by selective recruitment, inculcation, and retention of agents that correspond with dominant discourses. In our comparative analysis we recognize that for most East European countries past three decades are not a single period, but rather a comparatively rapid succession of relatively distinct phases, shaped by both geopolitical challenges and opportunities, and volatile internal processes.

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