Political Alientation in Post-Communist Countries - a Sign of Social Anomie?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Seminarsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Inta MIERINA, University of Latvia, Latvia
Participation in political processes is one of the core social activities establishing an individial as an active and engaged member of the society. Several studies have documented the political alienation of the citizens of post-communist countries.  According to Korzeniowski (1994), Skarżyńska and Chmielewski (1995), the roots of political alienation can be found in the communist system, which allowed little space for meaningful and efficient political participation. Right after the fall of the Communist system political alienation decreased, however, the experiences of transition - hyperinflation, detoriating situation in the labor market, rapidly rising levels of poverty and economic insecurity – brought political alienation to a level higher than in the 1980s (Korzeniowski 1994; Skarżyńska and Chmielewski 1995; Mieriņa and Cers 2015). Many felt disappointed with the new system and frustrated with the slow pace of improvements. And even today, after twenty years of democratization post-communist countries still form a distinct cluster characterized by widespread political alienation among their citizens, especially young people (Mierina 2014).

Some of the indicators of political alienation (Seeman 1959; Roberts 1987) mirror those discussed in the literature on social anomie. This paper tries to link these concepts in order to better understand if political alienation can be seen as just one of the manifestations of anomie in general. If so, this might imply a need to revise our understanding of the roots of political alientation, thus providing better insight into the mechanisms behind social and political attitudes in post-communist countries.