Review of Zbigniew Rau, ed., <em>The Reemergence of Civil Society in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union</em>

Author: José Casanova

December 1, 1993

In this article, José Casanova reviews Zbigniew Rau's The Reemergence of Civil Society in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union (1991). Casanova initially notes that book's topical split: the first four essays take different theoretical-analytical views on civil society, while the next four look at case studies of civil societies in Crimea, the Ukraine, Poland, and Estonia. Casanova argues that while the four case studies are individually strong, they fail to create a coherent narrative or framework to study civil society. He contends they missed key factors such as the role of the changing dynamics of the central government in Moscow and the lack of a Soviet civil society during the democratization of the Soviet Union. Casanova subsequently concludes that the four theoretical essays form the more crucial part of the book, which he again likes individually more than as a whole. In particular, Casanova argues that two of the essays take overly liberal and simplistic views of civil society, whereas the reality of civil societies are complex and occasionally dangerous. Instead, Casanova argues for an understanding of civil society as a separate sphere, sometimes in conflict with nationalism. This review was published in the journal Slavic Review.

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