NEC UEFISCDI Award
Institute of Sociological Studies, Charles University & Global Digital Citizenship Lab, York University
The proposed project aims at postulating post-socialism as a critical standpoint and analytical lens akin to postcolonialism through which we can better understand structural changes in the nexus of polity–economy–society. The proposed project aims to theorize from the Global East by: firstly, understand what post-socialist civil society actually is (instead of simply what it should be) through a comparative and multidimensional approach to post-socialist civil society (building) that goes beyond limitations of studying only individual attitudes and/or activities of non-governmental organizations; and secondly, provide new perspectives on civil society and social activism in the post-socialist space to explore new ways of conceptualizing civil society (building) and contentious politics that are relevant beyond post-socialist context(s). I argue that diachronic study of development of civil societies in the Global East – examined against the backdrop of tectonic, externally-sponsored institutional shifts in the polity and the economy – offers an unprecedented opportunity for theorizing not only about, but also from the “postsocialist condition”. This, however, requires a theoretical synthesis of the existing scholarly work on the Global East, in order to make a shift from research on post-socialist civil society – which relies on high-level theorizing from the West, resulting in a unidirectional flow of Western theories being applied to the Global East – to postsocialist civil society research that, conversely, uses the unique historical experience of post-socialism as a source of knowledge- and theory-production that can critically and meaningfully amend and improve existing theories on and approaches to civil society, social movements, contentious politics, and democratization.