Postcommunist divergence: A comparative analysis of the transition to capitalism in Poland and Russia

  • Lawrence King


This article critiques the dominant neoliberal transition paradigm. The implementation of neoliberal reforms in the postcommunist world has fostered the creation of two different types of capitalism. Rather than enabling a transition to Western European-style capitalism, these reforms have produced divergence within the postcommunist world. This article uses comparative firm-level case studies from Russia and Poland to construct a “neoclassical” sociological alternative to neoliberal theory that can explain this divergence. In this account, intra-dominant class structure (the pattern of alliances between the Party bureaucracy, the technocracy, and humanistic intellectuals) at the time of the transition produces different “paths to capitalism,” or policy regimes, which, in turn, have different effects on the ability of firms to restructure. In Russia, this creates a system of “patrimonial capitalism” that will produce long-term economic stagnation. In Poland, a variety of modern rational capitalism emerges. This latter system is distinguished by its very high levels of dependence on capital imports in comparison to the advanced capitalist countries. As a result, this type of economy will be quite vulnerable to economic shocks.


Foreign Direct Investment Comparative International Development Shock Therapy Humanistic Intellectual Vladimir Oblast 
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  • Lawrence King

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