In this article, we test the effect of communist-era legacies on the large and temporally resilient deficit in civic participation in post-communist countries. To do so, we analyze data from 157 surveys conducted between 1990 and 2009 in twenty four post-communist countries and forty-two non-post-communist countries. The specific hypotheses we test are drawn from a comprehensive theoretical framework of the effects of communist legacies on political behavior in post-communist countries that we have previously developed. Our analysis suggests that three mechanisms were particularly salient in explaining this deficit: first, the demographic profile (including lower religiosity levels) of post-communist countries is less conducive to civic participation than elsewhere. Second, the magnitude of the deficit increases with the number of years an individual spent under communism but the effects were particularly strong for people socialized in the post-totalitarian years and for those who experienced communism in their early formative years (between ages six and seventeen). Finally, we also find that civic participation suffered in countries that experienced weaker economic performance in the post communist period, though differences in post-communist democratic trajectories had a negligible impact on participation. Taken together, we leave behind a potentially optimistic picture about civic society in post-communist countries, as the evidence we present suggests eventual convergence toward norms in other non post-communist countries.
- Civic participation
- Communist legacies
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science