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Divide and Pacify

Strategic Social Policies and Political Protests in Post-Communist Democracies

By Pieter Vanhuysse

Publication Year: 2006

Despite dramatic increases in poverty, unemployment, and social inequalities, the Central and Eastern European transitions from communism to market democracy in the 1990s have been remarkably peaceful. This book proposes a new explanation for this unexpected political quiescence. It shows how reforming governments in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have been able to prevent massive waves of strikes and protests by the strategic use of welfare state programs such as pensions and unemployment benefits. Divide and Pacify explains how social policies were used to prevent massive job losses with softening labor market policies, or to split up highly aggrieved groups of workers in precarious jobs by sending some of them onto unemployment benefits and many others onto early retirement and disability pensions. From a narrow economic viewpoint, these policies often appeared to be immensely costly or irresponsibly populist. Yet a more inclusive social-scientific perspective can shed new light on these seemingly irrational policies by pointing to deeper political motives and wider sociological consequences.

Published by: Central European University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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pp. 5-7

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-x

List of Figures

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pp. xi-xiii

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pp. xv-xviii

While I am writing these lines, cars are aflame in the suburbs of Paris and other French cities. A state founded on the rule of law can obviously not tolerate vandalism. It should protect order and private property, and punish violent transgressions...

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pp. xix-xx

For financial support during the writing of this book, I am most grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC, Britain), the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO, Flanders), and the Department of Economics at the University...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-8

Transitions to democracy, especially when accompanied by deep economic reforms, have often led to massive strikes and protests. Periods of expanding political opportunities have historically been conducive to large-scale protest cycles...

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2. The Unexpected Peacefulness of Transitions

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pp. 9-27

Deep economic reforms, however urgent, often have short and turbulent life spans. During the 1970s and 1980s, a large number of countries in Latin America and the developing world experienced repeated waves of protests, strikes, riots, and casualties...

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3. Political Quiescence despite Conditions for Conflict

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pp. 29-48

Enjoying the benefit of hindsight, it is often easy to forget the genuine uncertainties experienced by actors at a time when what is history today was still unfolding. Judging by many variables traditionally associated with industrial action, and seen through...

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4. Preventing Protests: Divide and Pacify as Political Strategy

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pp. 49-72

Throughout history, political stability and social order have generally been prerequisites for economic growth and prosperity.1 Assuming that early post-communist governments considered large-scale disruption by reform losers to be likely, how could they...

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5. The Great Abnormal Pensioner Booms: Strategic Social Policies in Practice

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pp. 73-95

How have post-communist governments allocated their scarce resources towards different social groups? In keeping with Taylor’s (1988a) emphasis that we need both individualist explanations of structures and other macro-phenomena and structuralist...

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6. Peaceful Pathways: The Political Economy of Post-Communist Welfare

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pp. 97-132

Why, far from retrenching maturing pensions systems, did resource-constrained governments pass early laws that positively worsened pension finances? How did the Great Abnormal Pensioner Booms of the early 1990s affect the Hungarian...

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7. Conclusions

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pp. 133-140

The 1990s have been a high-charged, fast-paced decade in Central and Eastern Europe. These years have seen great hopes, widespread disappointments and, crucially, stunning accomplishments in reforming communist states into liberal market...


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pp. 141-164

Index of Names

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pp. 165-166

Subject Index

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pp. 167-170

Back Cover

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p. 192-192

E-ISBN-13: 9786155211447
Print-ISBN-13: 9789637326790

Page Count: 171
Publication Year: 2006

Edition: 1st