I was recently invited to participate in a special issue of East European Politics and Societies to consider the topic of “what is Eastern Europe?” these days from a political perspective. The editors of the volume asked us to think about this from the point of view of our own research, so I wrote a piece about the evolution of my own research in terms of studying political behavior in post-communist countries. The piece is available here; here’s the abstract:
As the theoretical rationale (and funding opportunities!) for considering Eastern Europe as a distinct region diminish as we move farther away from the momentous events of 1989, the value of including East-Central European countries in comparative studies has only increased. This article outlines how comparative studies of political behavior involving East-Central European countries have evolved in the author’s own research from comparative studies including Russia along with four East European countries, to more broadly based comparative studies including multiple East European countries and former Soviet Republics, to studies where behavior is analyzed in both East European countries and more established democracies, and finally to large cross-national studies focused on questions related to post-communist politics (namely, the legacy of communism on post-communist attitudes and behavior) but relying on the comparative analysis of survey data from countries around the world. In a way, the research has come full circle, from studies of East European political behavior to better understand East European political behavior, to studies including East European countries to better understand general questions of political behavior not specific to post-communist countries, to now the most extensive comparative studies that are, however, designed once again to better understand East European political attitudes and behavior.