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Ethnic Struggle, Coexistence, and Democratization in Eastern Europe

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics

  • Date Published: May 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107656949

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About the Authors
  • In societies divided on ethnic and religious lines, problems of democracy are magnified – particularly where groups are mobilized into parties. With the principle of majority rule, minorities should be less willing to endorse democratic institutions where their parties persistently lose elections. While such problems should also hamper transitions to democracy, several diverse Eastern European states have formed democracies even under these conditions. In this book, Sherrill Stroschein argues that sustained protest and contention by ethnic Hungarians in Romania and Slovakia brought concessions on policies that they could not achieve through the ballot box, in contrast to Transcarpathia, Ukraine. In Romania and Slovakia, contention during the 1990s made each group accustomed to each other's claims, and aware of the degree to which each could push its own. Ethnic contention became a de facto deliberative process that fostered a moderation of group stances, allowing democratic consolidation to slowly and organically take root.

    • Rich detail in empirical discussion of Eastern Europe, with use of four local languages in research, and use of event analysis, a method that is growing in the field
    • Overturns the notion of ethnic protest as dangerous and leading to ethnic conflict; rather, shows how it can contribute to incorporating minorities in governance and policymaking processes, in ways that could not take place via the ballot box alone
    • Discusses protest as a form of de facto deliberation, thus bringing together normative theory on inclusive forms of democracy and contentious politics
    Read more


    • Honourable Mention, 2014 Distinguished Book Award, Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration Section, International Studies Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Sherrill Stroschein reinvents the study of contentious politics in divided societies by making two original and compelling arguments. One is that the policy concerns of ordinary citizens, rather than the manipulative actions of political leaders, explain why minorities mobilize. The other is that such mobilizations, especially over time, provide needed information to citizens and policy-makers. As a result, they contribute to more positive relations between majorities and minorities while investing in the quality of public policy and democratic life."
    Valerie Bunce, Cornell University

    "Ethnic Struggle, Coexistence, and Democratization in Eastern Europe is an innovative and thoughtful analysis of difficult ethnic politics in Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine – and the transformative power of deliberation and minority protest in ameliorating conflict. The systematic attention to the temporal dynamics of contention and moderation makes it an outstanding contribution to the field."
    Anna Grzymala-Busse, University of Michigan

    "This meticulously researched study persuasively demonstrates how the routinization of contestation in multi-ethnic polities can contribute to democratic consolidation and lead publics away from (rather than toward) violent confrontation. The book also shows how ethnic and linguistic minorities not represented as groups in national political parties can nonetheless prompt meaningful political change. Stroschein’s findings, while firmly grounded in multiple Eastern European contexts, have important implications for democratic theory and the practice of building democratic institutions beyond the region. This book should be of great interest to social scientists and policy practitioners alike."
    Jessica Pisano, University of Ottawa

    "Sherrill Stroschein's book is a valuable read for comparative scholars and area experts … the volume is useful, provoking, and responsibly presented."
    Richard P. Farkas, DePaul University, Slavic Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107656949
    • length: 314 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 33 b/w illus. 1 map 17 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Ethnic protest, moderation, and democratization
    2. Time, process, and events in democratization
    3. Ethnic contention in context
    4. Local violence and uncertainty in Târgu Mureş, 1990
    5. The power of symbols: Romanians, Hungarians, and King Mathias in Cluj
    6. Forging language laws: schools and sign wars
    7. Debating local governance: autonomy, local control, and minority enclaves
    8. Implications of group interaction.

  • Author

    Sherrill Stroschein, University College London
    Dr Sherrill Stroschein is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Politics in the Department of Political Science and Program Coordinator of the MSc in Democracy at University College London. She was previously an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies and an Assistant Professor at Ohio University. She completed her PhD at Columbia University under the supervision of the late Dr Charles Tilly. Her publications examine the politics of ethnicity in democracies with mixed ethnic or religious populations and her work has appeared in Perspectives on Politics, Ethnopolitics, Nations and Nationalism and Party Politics, among other journals. She is also the editor of Governance in Ethnically Mixed Cities (2007).


    • Honourable Mention, 2014 Distinguished Book Award, Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration Section, International Studies Association
    • Honourable Mention, 2013 Joseph Rothschild Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies, Association for the Study of Nationalities

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