Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Explaining 1989 - Soviet Imperial Breakdown and Structural Stasis

26 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2005  

Chris Armbruster


Date Written: August 25, 2005


A new hypothesis for explaining the world historical event of 1989 is proposed: The Soviet imperial association was immobilised by a structural stasis. Structural stasis was the condition that made Soviet imperial breakdown possible. As the leadership sought to mobilise the imperial association in the late 1980s the breakdown became increasingly likely. Once the resort to violence was heavily constrained and the imperial association lost control over borders and space the breakdown became inevitable. The hypothesis is theoretically well grounded in a Weberian theory of domination, which is elaborated to include indicators of illegitimate domination. Methodologically the hypothesis is bolstered by the most advanced models of social and cultural change available, which are developed to account for structural and cultural conditioning as well as probability and contingency. Theory, methodology and model foster an explanatory understanding. It is anticipated that this new hypothesis will prevail over alternative political, economic, military and cultural explanations.

Keywords: Soviet empire, 1989, structural stasis, historical explanation, historical contingency, communist party, nomenklatura, terror, workers' councils, rationalisation

JEL Classification: H77, J50, K42, N01, P21, P31

Suggested Citation

Armbruster, Chris, Explaining 1989 - Soviet Imperial Breakdown and Structural Stasis (August 25, 2005). Available at SSRN: or

Chris Armbruster (Contact Author)

EDUDATA FUND ( email )

Lessingstrasse 55
Berlin, 13158

Paper statistics

Abstract Views