This groundbreaking work explores popular attitudes on social, economic, and political justice in the former communist states of Russia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and eastern Germany. Drawing on detailed opinion surveys conducted in 13 countries in east and west in 1991, and replicated in Eastern Europe in 1996, the authors go beyond typical survey questions to explore the philosophically and theoretically important concept of justice. The 1991 survey showed that citizens of the region enthusiastically endorsed market capitalism in principle. Over the next five years, however, this enthusiasm waned, with growing popular sentiment that the economic order was not working fairly in fact. Elements of egalitarianism from the communist era persist, and people see a fair society as one with a substantially greater degree of economic equality than found in western capitalist states. Citizens of eastern Europe hope to create societies where people who work hard can earn and keep good money, but also where those in want have their basic needs met.
The results show increasingly close links between economics and politics and underscore the critical importance of economic revival for democratic success. Only small minorities consider themselves OwinnersO from the transition process assuring their support for democratic and economic transition. But most people feel they personally and their societies in general have gained little, or even lost, from the process. Many are increasingly fatalistic and apathetic and as a result have withdrawn from the political process. Invaluable for its longitudinal data and east-west comparisons, the book will have profound implications for the building of successful democracies in postcommunist systems.
David S. Mason is professor of political science at Butler University. James R. Kluegel is professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.