Capitalist Diversity on Europe's Periphery

Scholars no longer see eastern European states as traversing a path from state socialism to liberal capitalism. They now categorize these states as capitalist, although it is still unclear what kind of capitalism they practice. Bohle and Greskovits contend that the capitalism of eastern European states differs from the West’s mature form, although not quite as starkly as the authoritarian capitalism some associate with post-Soviet states. The differences stem from how eastern European states deal with the tensions among market efficiency, social cohesion, and political legitimacy. Bohle and Greskovits see three distinct approaches: the “neoliberalism” that characterizes the Baltic states and favors market efficiency over the other two concerns; the “embedded liberalism” of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, which softens the pursuit of market efficiency and pays greater attention to welfare policies; and Slovenia’s “neocorporatist” approach, which seeks to cushion the effects of marketization on particular segments of society. In this tightly argued comparative study, the authors also explore how these three clusters of countries have dealt with their socialist legacies and with the imperatives imposed by a liberal global economy and the financial and economic crisis that it has lately generated.

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