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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Can democracy function alongside weak civil society? The case of post-communist Europe Ryan, Freiburger

Abstract

Post-Communist Europe poses a theoretical puzzle for students of democracy. There is a large body of political science literature that argues that civil society is not only good for democracy but critical for democratic deepening. While civil society is generally regarded as an essential feature of stable democracy, twenty years after the collapse of communism, post-communist civil society is relatively weak. This thesis examines the relationship between civil society and democracy in post-communist Europe. Using the 2008 European Values Survey I conduct regression analysis to test whether or not there is a statistical link between relative differences in the strength of civil society and indicators of democracy at both the country and the individual level. I find no statistical link between civil society and democracy at the country level and found a relatively modest link between democratic values and membership in civil society organizations at the individual level. These results suggest that the link between civil society and democracy in post-communist Europe is relatively modest. The thesis concludes by conducting a case study of Poland where I explore the relationship between civil society and democracy in a more extensive manner.

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