Democratic Transition Research: From Western to Post-Soviet East European Scholarship


  • Olga Oleinikova University of Technology Sydney



This paper is the first of its kind to provide a comparative overview of Western (Western European and North American) and post-Soviet East European transition theories and literature that can be used to understand specifics of post-Soviet transition in Eastern Europe. Bridging the two broad theoretical traditions of East and West, and taking Ukraine as a case study, this literature review adds to the transition literature a discussion that relates to the emergence and interplay of structure and agency theories since the 1950s. In particular, the review sets out the various ways in which the transition from post-Communist government to democracy has been theorized, from a structuralist to an agency-structure approach. Meanwhile, it puts new wind into the sails of the idea that the interplay of structure and agency is more relevant to understanding the transition in Ukraine—reflecting similar dynamics in other post-Communist Eastern European states. This review is a good starting source for those who want to understand the roots of democratic transition research and theories.


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Author Biography

Olga Oleinikova, University of Technology Sydney

Director of the Ukraine Democracy Initiative, based at the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Sydney, Australia.