Taking Stock of Shock: Social Consequences of the 1989 Revolutions (Paperback)
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Kristen Ghodsee and Mitchell A. Orenstein blend empirical data with lived experiences to produce a robust picture of who won and who lost in post-communist transition, contextualizing the rise of populism in Eastern Europe. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, more than 400 million people suddenly found themselves in a new reality, a dramatic transition from state socialist and centrally planned workers' states to liberal democracy (in most cases) and free markets. Thirty years later, postsocialist citizens
remain sharply divided on the legacies of transition. Was it a success that produced great progress after a short recession, or a socio-economic catastrophe foisted on the East by Western capitalists? Taking Stock of Shock aims to uncover the truth using a unique, interdisciplinary investigation
into the social consequences of transition--including the rise of authoritarian populism and xenophobia. Showing that economic, demographic, sociological, political scientific, and ethnographic research produce contradictory results based on different disciplinary methods and data, Kristen Ghodsee
and Mitchell Orenstein triangulate the results. They find that both the J-curve model, which anticipates sustained growth after a sharp downturn, and the disaster capitalism perspective, which posits that neoliberalism led to devastating outcomes, have significant basis in fact. While substantial
percentages of the populations across a variety of postsocialist countries enjoyed remarkable success, prosperity, and progress, many others suffered an unprecedented socio-economic catastrophe. Ghodsee and Orenstein conclude that the promise of transition still remains elusive for many and offer
policy ideas for overcoming negative social and political consequences.
About the Author
Kristen R. Ghodsee is Professor of Russian and East European Studies and a Member of the Graduate Group in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her articles and essays have been translated into over twenty languages and have appeared in publications such as The New Republic, The Lancet, Ms. Magazine, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. She is also the author of nine books, most recently: Second World, Second Sex and Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, which has already had thirteen foreign editions. Mitchell A. Orenstein is Professor and Chair of Russian and East European Studies and a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is the prize-winning author, editor, and co-author of eight books on the social policy and political economy of postcommunist states, including FromTriumph to Crisis, Privatizing Pensions, and Roma in an Expanding Europe. He has consulted for the World Bank, USAID, and the government of Slovakia.