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The cultural roots of Estonia's successful transition: How historical legacies shaped the 1990s
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2007 (English)In: East European Politics and Societies, ISSN 0888-3254, E-ISSN 1533-8371, Vol. 21, no 2, 316-347 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates the cultural roots of Estonia's surprisingly successful transitions in the 1990s. Taking the point of departure in historical institutionalism, two layers of political cultural legacies are identified as particularly crucial in preparing Estonia for the democratic government installed after independence. First, the article argues that even in a Baltic context, Estonia stood out as a hotbed for social initiatives and elite networks during Communist times. Second, to understand why such liberalisation within the authoritarian Communist regime started earlier in Estonia than elsewhere in the Soviet Union, there is a need to acknowledge the importance that the historical experiences of the inter-war republic played. Estonia then developed a civic culture that partly survived even during the Pats regime from 1934 to 1939. These experiences surfaced once the yolk of Stalinism was lifted in the 1950s and shaped Estonia under Communism into a society of "collective mobilization" where democratically inclined counter-elites could form.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 21, no 2, 316-347 p.
Keyword [en]
Estonia, cultural legacy, post-communism, transition, interwar period
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-144710DOI: 10.1177/0888325407299785ISI: 000246206500004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-144710DiVA: diva2:394285
Available from: 2011-02-02 Created: 2011-02-02 Last updated: 2012-08-10Bibliographically approved

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Bennich-Björkman, Li
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