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The Social Structure of Soviet-Type Societies, Its Collapse and Legacy

PAVEL MACHONIN
Czech Sociological Review
Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 1993), pp. 231-249
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43945192
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Social Structure of Soviet-Type Societies, Its Collapse and Legacy
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Abstract

Soviet-type social systems in East-Central Europe can be characterized by the functional interdependence of totalitarian and anti-meritocratic types of vertical social differentiation. Anti-meritocratic relationships involve strong egalitarian elements operating in favor of less qualified individuals and groups as well as undeserved privileges for the "nomenklatura" and its political supporters. In the history of these countries two important changes occurred that modified their general social characteristics: the defeated attempt at reform that temporarily strengthened the stratification elements which had reached their peak in the 1960s and the emergence of the "second society" in the 1980s. Relevant for a grasp of the substantial aspects of the social structures typical for Soviet-type societies are sociological approaches stressing: a) power differentiation; b) the "second society" as an emerging nucleus of a standard class society; c) neo-Weberian and/or neo-Marxist class categorizations; d) socio-economic status indices revealing social stratification; and e) a multidimensional view of social status accenting status consistency/inconsistency. A brief overview of the reasons for the collapse of communism and of its "legacies" in the case of Czechoslovakia demonstrates the strong influence of this social system on the post-communist transformation.

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