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Mass Opposition to the Soviet Putsch of August 1991: Collective Action, Rational Choice, and Democratic Values in the Former Soviet Union

James L. Gibson
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 91, No. 3 (Sep., 1997), pp. 671-684
DOI: 10.2307/2952082
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2952082
Page Count: 14
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Mass Opposition to the Soviet Putsch of August 1991: Collective Action, Rational Choice, and Democratic Values in the Former Soviet Union
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Abstract

The attempted coup in August 1991 provides an acid test of whether a democratic political culture is emerging in the former Soviet Union. This paper considers the hypothesis that active resistance to the coup was partly a function of attachments to democracy. Relying heavily on earlier models of collective action, and based on a 1992 survey of mass opinion in all the republics, this hypothesis is tested within a broader theory of rational choice and expectancy theory. Generally, it seems that reactions to the coup were not based on strictly rational calculations and that basic commitments to the collective good of democracy motivated resistance. My general conclusion is that a mass culture has emerged in Russia that nurtures democracy. The 1991 coup demonstrates that for many people in the former Soviet states there is little alternative to democratic politics.

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