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Local Politics in Communist Countries

Local Politics in Communist Countries

Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Local Politics in Communist Countries
    Book Description:

    There are many reasons why it is important to study local politics -- political culture, government, political process -- in Communist party states. As in all politics, local politics in Communist party states are the political articulation of the local community. This is the political arena where policies concerning local issues are formulated by the officials. This is where the officials are approached by citizens with their particular demands. This is where citizens articulate their preferences, aspirations, and values through political participation. And this is where officials, both elected and appointed, are recruited.

    In this volume, Daniel N. Nelson has assembled a team of international scholars to consider local politics in Communist party states including the U.S.S.R., China, Poland, Yugoslavia, and Romania. Together, they explore how local social and political forces are articulated in the national and party organizations; they also reveal how the study of comparative local politics provides vitality for the study of national politics. Rather than treating local communities as receivers and translators of national inputs, the contributors demonstrate that the local dimension and national politics mutually influence one another and illuminate the social reality in communist societies.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5642-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Introduction: Local Communist Politics: An Overview
    (pp. 1-8)

    There are many good reasons why it is important to study local politics—political culture, government, political process—in Communist party states. Let me suggest three major ones: First, as in all politics, local politics in Communist party states are the sum total of the political articulation of the local community. This is the political arena where policies concerning local issues are formulated by the officials. This is where the officials are approached by citizens with their particular demands. This is where citizens articulate their preferences, aspirations, and values through political participation. And this is where officials, both elected and...

  7. PART I Participants in Subnational Communist Politics

    • [Part I Introduction]
      (pp. 9-11)

      In the four chapters that follow, local political life in communist systems is examined from the standpoint of individuals performing roles in institutions of the state and party at subnational levels. Important and ongoing debates regarding political participation under communism provide the core for each of these chapters—debates both about the leadership stratum and about citizen participation.

      The careful analysis of biographical data by Joel Moses for Soviet local leadership comes to grips with two of these vital issues: who become leaders in communist states at the lower levels and what trends are evident within that echelon? The point...

    • 1. Local Leadership Integration in the Soviet Union
      (pp. 12-53)

      If political integration is conceived as the general condition of unity or responsiveness between a society and its political system, the relative political integration of the Soviet Union has often been interpreted by western scholars on the basis of those holding local political leadership positions in the USSR. From this narrow elitist interpretation, western scholars have assumed that the background characteristics of the local Soviet leadership are key indicators of integration within the USSR and the most relevant benchmarks from which overall integrative trends could be objectively identified through quantitative elite analysis. Equating political integration in the Soviet Union with...

    • 2. Evaluating Citizen Performance at the Community Level: The Role of Party Affiliation in Yugoslavia
      (pp. 54-89)

      The purpose of this essay is to compare the difference between the is and the ought-to-be in present-day Yugoslav public life: what is the variance between the official norms governing the civic behavior and attitudes of Yugoslav citizens and the citizens’ actual behavior and attitudes in their everyday sociopolitical lives?

      Of the several types of political systems within which one may wish to explore this question, Yugoslavia is of particular interest. A one-party system aiming at socialist transformation via widespread sociopolitical activity of its citizens, Yugoslavia has led other countries in the design and development of innovative political structures and...

    • 3. Citizen Participation in Romania: The People’s Council Deputy
      (pp. 90-120)

      How and why certain people become political participants in communist states are topics infrequently studied, since appropriate information-gathering techniques such as survey questionnaires and elite interviews are often denied to the researcher. This paper, however, reports on part of a larger research project conducted in Romania, during which I had opportunities for extensive interviews with deputies of local assemblies called people’s councils.¹ From over 250 interviews with deputies and local elites, I obtained information regarding the political backgrounds of citizens who had become deputies (see Tables 3.2–3.4), as well as how and why they had become involved in subnational...

    • 4. Political Participation in the USSR: The Public Inspector
      (pp. 121-144)
      JAN S. ADAMS

      In the post-Stalin era, the Soviet citizen participates in social and political activities on a large scale, but is it accurate to call this participation “political”? In this study, I will examine one kind of participant activity, the work of today’s almost ubiquitous public inspectors, and will show that the public inspector’s activity, when viewed in the context of the Soviet political system as a whole, does constitute genuine political participation.¹ More specifically, I will argue that today in the USSR the volunteer inspector performs three major political functions: He serves as an extension of government agencies in carrying out...

  8. PART II The Role of Subnational Institutions in the Making and Implementation of Policy

    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 145-147)

      While the totalitarian model was dominant within communist studies, local units were regarded as only serving to implement the commands of national leaders and central bureaucracies. Any role for subnational political institutions, or the activities of individuals or groups at those levels, was viewed as minimal, so that potential powers of local state and party bodies vis-à-vis the center were all but ignored, as were determinants of such power.

      During the 1960s and 1970s, field research became possible in most communist states, after which the images of monolithic policy-processes abated (or, in situations where that model had some validity, it...

    • 5. Commune Policies and Socioeconomic Parameters in Yugoslavia
      (pp. 148-175)

      The study of communist politics recently has paid increasing attention to subnational units in order to illuminate the central elements of these political systems. One prominently proclaimed goal of many communist regimes has been the promotion of regional equality in states where substantial regional disparities have long existed; and several imaginative analyses have empirically evaluated the success of such policies.¹ This paper examines aggregate data on Yugoslav communes—the basic unit of local government there—to assess policies effecting regional equality in that country. Three broad areas of commune characteristics—the general socioeconomic environment, commune activities promoting the citizenry’s welfare...

    • 6. Polish Local Politics in Flux: Concentration or Deconcentration
      (pp. 176-190)

      The uprising of workers which brought Edward Gierek to power introduced a new era of Polish postwar politics.¹ The immediate cause of the upheaval was the attempt of the previous administration of Władysław Gomułka to raise prices of food and to increase the productivity of labor by administrative measures. These policies stemmed from long-lasting economic difficulties, which were not in any way eliminated by the change in the person of the first secretary of the Polish United Workers’ party.

      Poland, like other socialist countries of East-Central Europe, was industrialized in accordance with the Soviet model, which was not well suited...

    • 7. Decentralization and Control in Chinese Local Administration
      (pp. 191-210)

      For a number of years, students of Chinese local administration have been divided in their assessments of the degee of effective central control over the regions and consequently of the extent of real local autonomy. While in retrospect, this may not have been the most fruitful possible analytic problem, it did generate sufficient research substantially to advance our understanding of subnational administration in China. Not only has the nature of local and regional institutional structures been clarified, but we now have a basic grasp of the communications processes which link these various levels of subnational administration. Further, detailed studies of...

  9. Conclusion: Participatory and Policymaking Dilemmas in Local Communist Politics
    (pp. 211-224)

    Because subnational political phenomena in communist states were, for many years, ignored in favor of a focus on institutions and individuals of central governments, we can offer only tentative conclusions about participation in, and the policymaking role of, local political institutions in such systems. Notwithstanding the relatively short period of time during which scholars have devoted attention to politics in communist communities, our understanding of political structures, events, and behaviors at these levels in communist states has improved significantly, in part due to the attention by scholars included in this collection. In this summary chapter, I will use data and...

  10. Index
    (pp. 225-232)