Consolidation as hegemonization: The case of Estonia

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    Recent developments in Central and Eastern Europe show that the proper functioning of new political and economic institutions is crucially dependent on their social and cultural environment. Due to this, research has changed its analytical focus from "transition" to "consolidation" of the market economy and representative democracy in the region. A consolidated social order can be defined as one where its central elements have become "the only game in town". The article treats this process as hegemonization, referring to the theories of Gramsci and Berger and Luckmann. The term "democratic consolidation" itself seems to include a contradiction: flow "consolidated" can a political system be in order still to be a democracy? The developments of 1988-1991 in Estonia are analyzed as an ontological and epistemological crisis leading to an abandonment of the old social order, but ending up with no more than vague ideas about the new one. The new political goals which emerged during the 1990s include the prosperity and international security of the Estonian nation. They have been used for delegitimizing the demands of the losers of the transformation -- i.e., the Russian-speakers and the economically less well-situated groups. The government's ability to pursue consequent reform policies is based on the fact that not all social cleavages are reflected by institutional politics. As a consequence, people tend to become alienated from it. An activation of non-governmental organizations and Estonia's eventual EU membership may change politics towards a more inclusive direction. At the same time, a post-modernist fragmentation of value systems might push the Western societies themselves towards the laissez-faire economic policies now prevailing in Central and Eastern Europe.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)402–420
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of Baltic Studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2001
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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