CPop

Silent Non-Exit and Broken Voice: Early Postcommunist Social Policies as Protest-Preempting Strategies

How can pension policies serve larger political causes? CPop Affiliate Pieter Vanhuysse on the strategic use of early retirement in Central and Eastern Europe

By Pieter Vanhuysse, , 6/26/2019

This essay contributes towards the development of an analytical political sociology analysis of post-communist policy pathways and applies this by reinterpreting the social policy pathways taken by Hungary and Poland. At the critical historical juncture of the early 1990s, governments in these new democracies have used social policies to proactively create new labor market outsiders (rather than merely accommodate or deal with existing outsiders) in an effort to stifle disruptive repertoires of political voice. Micro-collective action theory helps to elucidate how the break-up of hitherto relatively homogenous clusters of threatened workers into newly competing interest groups has shaped the nature of distributive conflict in the formative first decade of these new democracies. This indicates how the analytical political economy of post-communist social policy can advance and modify current, predominantly Western-oriented, theories of insider/outsider conflict and welfare retrenchment politics, and can inform future debates about emerging social policy biases in Eastern Europe.

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