Rebellious Civil Society: Popular Protest and Democratic Consolidation in Poland, 1989-1993
By Grzegorz ekiert and Jan Kubik
University of Michigan Press, 2000, 296 pp.
Little of the growing literature on democratization in the former socialist countries has focused on the pressures and effects generated from below. Ekiert and Kubik take a large stride toward fixing that. If public protest once helped bring down communist regimes in countries such as Poland, the authors ask, what role do strikes, demonstrations, and other forms of noninstitutionalized opposition now play in consolidating democracy? Their answers rest on a fat and seemingly complete database of protest activity from 1989 to 1993 in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and East Germany, coupled with a thoughtful distillation and reformulation of the best existing analytical frameworks. They show that although protest in Poland has not usually been effective in transforming policy, it has helped offset institutional weaknesses in other domains, including political parties and the state itself. A rewarding and important book that promises still more when the follow-up comparative studies are completed.