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Transformations of Political Culture in Post-Totalitarian Societies. Post-World War II West Germany and Post-Soviet Russia in comparative Perspective

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 22-06-2012
Тематический раздел:
The article addresses transformations of political culture in the two post-totalitarian societies of the postwar Federal Republic of Germany and post-Soviet Russia. Transformations of West German and Russian societies are analyzed from the perspective of citizens’ orientations towards political system and their participation in it, focusing on such variables as interest in politics, the feeling of political efficacy, political participation, social trust, and support for democratic values.As the comparative analysis has revealed despite rather protracted period of citizens’ apathy and non-participation, West German postwar political
culture has experienced a gradual democratization of political orientations. The progressive increase of political interest and political discussion, political
efficacy, general trust, and, eventually, political participation, finally occurred with the most drastic increase by practically all analyzed variables taking
place in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These changes have coincided with – or, arguably, were caused by – the emergence of the highly active
protest student movement of 1968, thousands of citizen-initiative groups across the country, and, subsequently, the new social movements of the
1970s-1980s – the environmental, the anti-nuclear energy, the women’s and the peace movements. In post-Soviet Russia one could observe the
opposite situation: the wave of public activity subsided within the first post-communist years and since then there has been an overall decline by practically all variables of political involvement. With some minor exceptions of rare and nonsystematic citizens’ activism the overall picture, as the survey data have shown, has largely remained unchanged. Only in the recent years – approximately since 2005 and especially since December 2011 – some grassroots initiatives, networks and mass protests have started to appear in Russian cities. As for the West German case, the following
sources of political culture transformation are regarded as determinant: overall system performance, socioeconomic modernization that
brought about a gradual shift in the social structure, and changing of socialization patterns (in which political values are formed and through which they
are transmitted). The latter change in the Federal Republic was largely determined by the educational reforms which affected both the content and the
structure of secondary and higher education.
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