Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prag
E-Mail: sommer [at] usd.cas.cz
Private Ownership in Late Socialism and Post-Socialism: Expert Knowledge, Policy-Making and Social Praxis
In the existing literature, the 1990s in Central Europe have been usually characterized as a decade of transition from the socialist dictatorship to liberal democracy. The perspective viewing the era primarily as a period of re-building of capitalism on the ruins of state socialism and in the societies formed and run politically, for decades, as socialist societies has, particularly in historiography, been applied to a lesser extent. The return of capitalism into the countries of the former “Eastern Bloc” took place in the period in which the global capitalism was undergoing its second “great transformation” – from the “Keynesian” capitalism to neoliberalism. This project is based on the premise of the long-term nature of the explored system change and its goal is to capture the continuities between late socialism and post-socialism using the case study of the housing ownership transformation. It analyzes how the concept of private ownership was transformed since the late 1980s and how the new culture of ownership emerged in the course of the 1990s. This research starts with the analysis of expert thinking about the housing ownership and follows with the research on “translation” of this knowledge from expert to political and public discourses. It aims to capture which role was played by experts in the building of capitalism and how their knowledge was domesticated in various intellectual and social contexts of post-socialism.