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Social Theory and the Crisis of State Socialism

Larry Ray, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Lancaster, UK
Drawing on a wide range of social theory, Social Theory and the Crisis of State Socialism offers a comparative analysis of the democratic revolutions, combining historical understanding with accounts of the crisis of communism in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Russia. Larry Ray identifies contradictions within Soviet societies, developing a theory of crisis management that accounts both for the survival of the system over several decades and for its eventual failure.
Extent: 304 pp
Hardback Price: $145.00 Web: $130.50
Publication Date: 1996
ISBN: 978 1 85278 688 5
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  • Social Policy and Sociology
  • Comparative Social Policy
  • Sociology and Sociological Theory
The collapse of communist governments in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union requires a major rethink of many sociological theories of social integration and change.

Drawing on a wide range of social theory, Social Theory and the Crisis of State Socialism offers a comparative analysis of the democratic revolutions, combining historical understanding with accounts of the crisis of communism in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Russia. Larry Ray identifies contradictions within Soviet societies, developing a theory of crisis management that accounts both for the survival of the system over several decades and for its eventual failure.

The social structure of Soviet systems is analysed in relation to debates in sociological theory over legitimation, social integration, social movements and modernity. Larry Ray examines new forms of class, political and national identity in post-socialist Europe, demonstrating how political conflicts are related to economic transformation, especially the emergence of ‘nomenklatura capitalism’, and asks whether sufficient conditions exist for the stabilization of democratic citizenship.

Social Theory and the Crisis of State Socialism will be welcomed for comparatively analysing the communist and post-communist experiences of a number of East European countries in the light of a critical examination of the broad issues of social theory and modernity.
‘This is an ambitious, informative and important book. . . . I recommend this book warmly’
– Ivan Szelenyi, Slavonic Review
Contents: Acknowledgements 1. Introduction: Social Theory and Socialism 2. State Theory, Modernity and Differentiation 3. State Socialism and Modernity 4. Mode of Domination and Legitimacy 5. Systemic Crises in State Socialism 6. The Legal Revolution 7. The Rectifying Revolutions? 8. Civil Society and Citizenship in the New Europe 9. Globalization and Nationalism Index