Pieter Vanhuysse: Divide and Pacify - Strategic Social Policies and Political Protests in Post-Communist Democracies
 


Friday, 30 November, 15:00
Seminar Room at the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Berggasse 17, 1090 Vienna

Contact: Orsolya Lelkes

Speaker: Pieter Vanhuysse (University of Haifa)
Pieter Vanhuysse's Divide and Pacify (2006, CEU PRESS) has been nominated for
the American Sociological Association's Award for Distinguished Contribution to
Scholarship 2006, Section on Political Sociology.

Highlights of the Seminar
Divide and Pacify, develops a new, social policy-based explanation for the striking absence of strikes and protests in the new Central and Eastern European democracies. Contrary to reform experiences elsewhere in the 1970s and 1980s, the post-communist transitions have been distinctly non-violent and non-disruptive. I argue that governments could impose a degree of political peace upon the polity through the strategic use of welfare state programs. These policies split up formally organized groups of workers simultaneously threatened by redundancy, by keeping some of them in jobs, and by sending some onto unemployment benefits and many others onto early and disability retirement. Newly unemployed and 'abnormally' retired workers were now locked into a range of distributional conflicts over scarce state resources. Faced with declining living standards and narrowing social network ties, workers offloaded onto welfare programs had stronger incentives to earn private incomes in the grey economy (informal exit), instead of pursuing public goods through protests (collective voice).

The seminar was part of the series of international seminars that are organised by the European Centre.

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