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C. I.2.a. Comparative Studies of Dissent: Background to 1989

Volume One -> C. Popular Resistance in Communist Regimes -> C. I. The Soviet Bloc -> C. I.2. The Soviet Bloc 1980 to 1991 -> C. I.2.a. Comparative Studies of Dissent: Background to 1989

In addition to the major uprisings in Eastern Europe, there was widespread unobtrusive, indirect, symbolic and in some periods open dissent and protest in both the USSR itself and Eastern Europe. Indeed opposition within the bloc provides a very wide range of tactics, for a variety of causes, used by very different types of people: disaffected youth, students, dissident intellectuals, artists and scientists, workers, farmers, oppressed nationalities, religious believers, reformist Communists, prisoners and families of the unjustly persecuted. The rigorous censorship of news and communications sparked extensive use of samizdat (underground news sheets, essays and artistic works, often typed and re-typed when passed around). Reformers in the 1950s and 1960s often worked from within officially-sanctioned writers’ unions, scientific bodies, student unions and worker unions and churches, but from the 1970s there was also a proliferation of autonomous organizations from below – such as the ‘Flying University’ in Poland. This development was celebrated by East European intellectuals as the creation of a ‘parallel polis’ or the evolution of vibrant civil society.

Our earlier bibliography – People Power and Protest since 1945 – provided detailed references for each country. Here we have restricted references to a revised list of comparative studies.

Bugajski, Janusz ; Pollack, Maxine, East European Fault Lines: Dissent, Opposition and Social Activism, Boulder CO, Westview Press, 1989, pp. 333

Curry, Jane Leftwich, Dissent in Eastern Europe, New York, Praeger, 1983, pp. 277

Flam, Helena, Mosaic of Fear: Poland and East Germany before 1989, New York and Boulder CO, Columbia University Press and East European Monographs, 1998, pp. 283

Flam draws on newly available archives and over 100 interviews with Communist officials, dissidents and ‘bystanders’. (See also Flam, Anger in Repressive Regimes: A Footnote to Domination and the Arts of Resistance by James Scott (A. 1.c. Small Scale, Hidden, Indirect and 'Everyday' Resistance) ).

Johnston, Hank ; Mueller, Carol, Unobtrusive Practices of Contention in Leninist Regimes, Sociological Perspectives, Vol. 44, issue 3 (Fall), 2002, pp. 351-375

Examines three different forms of resistance: oblique spoken criticism; using officially approved organisations to promote muted collective opposition; and more open ‘dissidence’ – petitions, open letters, samizdat and contacting foreign press. (See also Johnston, States & Social Movements (A. 6. Nonviolent Action and Social Movements) , ch. 4.)

Lewis, Paul G., Democracy and Civil Society in Eastern Europe, Basingstoke and New York, Macmillan and St. Martin's Press, 1992, pp. 179

Mostly about prospects for civil society in post-communist context, but drawing on theory and practice of 1980s. Includes a chapter on the movement in Slovenia that led to it breaking away from Yugoslavia.

Ramet, Sabrina Petra, Social Currents in Eastern Europe: the sources and consequences of the great transformation, 2nd edn, Durham, Duke University Press, 1995, pp. 616

Prolific author on history and culture of East and Central Europe, whose other titles Rocking the State: rock music and politics in Eastern Europe and Russia, Westview Press, 1994, and Nihil Obstat: Religion, Politics and Social Change in East-Central Europe and Russia, Duke University Press, 1998, as well as various books on Yugoslavia and its successors.

Tickle, Andrew ; Welsh, Ian, Environment and Society in Eastern Europe, London, Longman, 1998, pp. 192

Examines contribution of environmental activism to ‘an immanent civil society’. Chapters on Hungary, Poland, Romania and Russia.

Tokes, Rudolf L., Opposition in Eastern Europe, London, Macmillan, 1979, pp. 306

Includes surveys of human rights and political change, worker resistance and potential for peasant opposition, and essays on Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland and Hungary from 1968-1978.

Watch, Helsinki, From Below: Independent Peace and Environment Movements in Eastern Europe and the USSR, New York, Helsinki Watch Report, 1987