In This Review

Post-Communist Democratization: Political Discourses Across Thirteen Countries
Post-Communist Democratization: Political Discourses Across Thirteen Countries
By John S. Dryzek and Leslie T. Holmes
Cambridge University Press, 2002, 300 pp

What the people of a country make of democracy will presumably have something to do with whether or not democracy is possible. Yet most scholars have been preoccupied with institutional design, the politics of reform, and theories of transition; few have bothered to study the views of those the new order is to be "of, by, and for." Dryzek and Holmes fill the void. They reveal the way crucial attitudes toward democracy are distributed among the populations of countries ranging from China to Poland, including Russia and a number of post-Soviet states. These multipart profiles offer useful and sometimes surprising insights into this grassroots dimension of democratization: for example, in authoritarian Belarus the different mindsets may be less of an obstacle to democracy than commonly assumed, and Bulgaria ranks with Poland and the Czech Republic as among the most favored. Their study, however, concerns the content and configuration of attitudes, not their relative popularity -- hence an important piece of the puzzle remains to be added.