An article written by CELSI's research affiliate Brian Fabo published in Eastern European Politics and Societies
Published on Nov. 9, 2015 in Journal articles
CELSI's research affiliate Brian Fabo discusses changing tune of the debate over issues of poverty and inequality in Slovakia in an essay published in the internationally renowned journal Eastern European Politics and Societies.
The onset of the Velvet Revolution in 1989 led to a radical transformation of the social structure and new types of economic inequalities in Slovakia, but the media, academia, and civil society initially rejected any talk of these developments in terms of class, seeing the topic as potentially toxic to democracy. There was a tendency to veer away from the study of new social stratification toward research on postmaterialist topics such as environmental protection, civil rights, and alternative subcultures. Those social scientists who did study the changing social structure mostly analyzed statistical data without linking this to a broader theoretical framework. Social classes came to be discussed in gradational rather than relational terms, without discussion of how one group’s new privileges comes at the expense of others. In the early 2000s, radical neoliberal thinking became prominent, leading to the pervasive presentation of the poor and working poor as themselves responsible for their own fate. A backlash against that led to the triumph of the SMER party in 2006, which allowed topics such as poverty and social justice to return to everyday political discourse, and in this sense allowed for the return of class into politics. A younger generation of Slovak social scientists now regularly criticize the cult of the market and argue for an alternative political economy, though ongoing neoliberal hegemony in public discourse continues to make it hard for these new voices to be heard.
Read the article here: http://eep.sagepub.com/content/29/3/588.abstract