East Central Europe and Communism : Politics, Culture, and Society, 1943–1991 book cover
1st Edition

East Central Europe and Communism
Politics, Culture, and Society, 1943–1991

  • Available for pre-order on February 23, 2023. Item will ship after March 16, 2023
ISBN 9781032318202
March 16, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
400 Pages

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Book Description

The communists of East Central Europe came to power promising to bring about genuine equality, paying special attention to achieving gender equality, to build up industry and create prosperous societies, and to use music, art, and literature to promote socialist ideals. Instead, they never succeeded in filling more than a third of their legislatures with women and were unable to make significant headway against entrenched patriarchal views; they considered it necessary (with the sole exception of Albania) to rely heavily on credits to build up their economies, eventually driving them into bankruptcy; and the effort to instrumentalize the arts ran aground in most of the region already by 1956, and, in Yugoslavia, by 1949.

Communism was all about planning, control, and politicization. Except for Yugoslavia after 1949, the communists sought to plan and control not only politics and the economy, but also the media and information, religious organizations, culture, and the promotion of women, which they understood in the first place as involving putting women to work. Inspired by the groundbreaking work of Robert K. Merton on functionalist theory, this book shows how communist policies were repeatedly undermined by unintended consequences and outright dysfunctions.

Table of Contents

1. Communism’s Unintended Consequences:  An Introduction.
2. The Soviet bloc, 1944-1956.
3. The Soviet bloc, 1956-1980
4. The Soviet bloc, 1980-1989/90.
5. Socialist Mavericks: Yugoslavia and Albania, 1943-1991.
6. Epitaph.
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Sabrina P. Ramet is a Professor Emerita at the Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU). She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science at UCLA in 1981. She has conducted more than 400 research interviews in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, and the United States. She is the author of 15 previous scholarly books, including Alternatives to Democracy in Twentieth-Century Europe: Collectivist Visions of Modernity (Central European University Press, 2019) and Nonconformity, Dissent, Opposition, and Resistance in Germany, 1933-1990: The Freedom to Conform (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). She is also editor or co-editor of 39 books – among them, Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989, 2nd ed., co-edited with Christine M. Hassenstab (Cambridge University Press, 2019).


"As time passes the world of the communist states in Cold War Eastern Europe has come to seem remote, particularly for the young who never experienced them as contemporary political realities. Distinguished historian and commentator Sabrina.P.Ramet has produced a valuable text that will help remedy this situation. It can be recommended without reservation for all students, and particularly those involved in the rapidly expanding world of Cold War history. This is a book that everyone, however knowledgeable, can learn from, and it has a depth of reference that will make it essential reading." - James Pettifer, St Cross College, Oxford, United Kingdom

"Superbly documented, engagingly written, combining persuasively comparative theoretical analysis with political, social, and intellectual history, as well as an interest in ideas and values rather than ideological fallacies, Sabrina Ramet’s new book is an outstanding scholarly achievement." – Vladimir Tismăneanu. University of Maryland, College Park, USA

"Sabrina P. Ramet’s outstanding study provides a fascinating and comprehensive journey into the ideological nature, political structure and social mobilization of East Central European communism. This is the first sociological study of the intended and unintended consequences of communist policies in politics, economic planning, culture, religion, and gender equality during the Cold War period. It is a must-read for students, academics and policy makers." - Lucian N. Leustean, Aston University, United Kingdom, co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Europe