Bounded Generalizations Revisited: Is the Post-Communist Area a World in Reverse?
16 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2012
Date Written: June 13, 2012
Since Valerie Bunce’s (2000) seminal work on big and bounded generalizations in the post-communist world, plenty of new research has time and again confirmed its main premise: these countries do not simply follow universal political trends. They may, for sure, adapt themselves to general movements, but when they do, they usually offer new, unexpected bounded tendencies. This applies not only to the key features and stages of political transition, but also to other important elements of political system and behavior, such as the levels of social capital and the dynamics of new radical right parties.
This presentation has three aims. First, it will summarize the current research since Bunce’s work that falls within the category of big and bounded generalizations. Second, I will discuss my findings through the lenses of the paradigmatic debate between instrumentalist, positivist and constructivist epistemologies in political science. In other words, I will discuss whether the bounded generalizations approach makes the facts speak for themselves, or is freely imposed by rational researchers, or grows out of discursive communities. And finally, I will offer an interpretative understanding of big and bounded generalizations by presenting results of semi-directed interviews with researchers that work on post-communist countries and, therefore, must constantly position themselves on the big-bounded generalization map.
Keywords: post-communism, East Central Europe, big and bounded generalizations
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