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Transformations of political culture in post-totalitarian societies: post-World War II West germay and post-Soviet Russia in comparative perspective

Lezina, Jane (2010) Transformations of political culture in post-totalitarian societies: post-World War II West germay and post-Soviet Russia in comparative perspective. Advisor: Vorozheikina, Prof. Tatiana. pp. 328. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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Abstract

This dissertation is a comparative historical analysis of institutional and cultural transformtions in post-totalitarian societies of post-World War II West Germany and post-Soviet Russia. It addresses democratization efforts in the two countries trying to discover and understand determinants of political culture transformations as well as the factors affecting democratic consolidation in them. Given the complexity of post-totalitarian contexts, the interplay between different levels of post-totalitarian transformations – political, economic, social, and cultural – is researched. More specifically, this study investigates how institutional transformations in post-totalitarian societies affect political culture. The dissertation is based on critical evaluation and synthesis of the following theoretical fields: democratic transition, political culture, collective memory and national identity. It employs and develops a view of political culture as a system of symbols and meanings that determines both the collective identification and the citizens’ attitudes and orientations towards the political system. This understanding of political culture has defined a twofold analysis of political culture transformations in West Germany and Russia from both attitudinal and symbolic perspectives. The analysis combines, thus, the focus on political attitudes and orientations of citizens with the focus on the historyrelated symbolic structures in public opinion. The variables under consideration in the comparative study of West German and Russian societies on the individual level are interest in politics, the feeling of political efficacy, political participation, social trust, and support for democratic values. The study investigates how attitudes toward self (civic attitudes, and primarily, the feeling of political efficacy) and toward others in politics (trust, cooperative competence) as well as toward the political system changed in the cause of post-totalitarian transformations in the two analyzed cases. Given the central place of memory in the constitution of identity the development of collective memory discourses of the two totalitarian pasts is also analyzed in detail. More specifically, the dissertation explores the ways in which West Germany and Russia confronted their totalitarian legacies and how they remembered their respective totalitarian regimes - the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. The questions addressed in this regard are: How collective memory discourses influenced the national identity and political processes in postwar West Germany and post-Soviet Russia? And more generally: How the shift in the official memory narratives from a nation-centered positive memory towards a more complex and more critical memory framework may affect democracy and national political development?

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
PhD Course: Political Science and Institutional Change
Identification Number: 10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/79
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2012 13:38
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/79

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