Yugoslavia: Development and Persistence of the State

  • Sharon Zukin
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


Any discussion of the state in Yugoslavia is forced to confront several seemingly insurmountable obstacles: the lack of a coherent general definition of the state, the contradiction in all socialist societies between a basic assumption of ‘withering away’ and a continuous governing apparatus, and the striking differences between Yugoslavia and other ‘socialist’ states. Because criteria for comparison usually derive from Soviet practice, the sine qua non of such a state is taken to be a centralised authority, especially in managing the economy, and a monopoly of political initiative in communist party hands. At first glance, the centrifugal nature of political relations in Yugoslavia, as well as a diffusion of effective social control, constitute a departure from this model. But in reality, the Yugoslav leaders’ attempts to respond to domestic and foreign pressures merely modify the concept of a ‘socialist state’. The series of strategic choices the leaders made, or were forced to make, between 1945 and 1950 negated the only models of state power that they knew — the interwar monarchy and the Soviet Union — and slowly led to a series of innovations. In particular, the leaders’ decision to withdraw from direct state management of both the economy and the society created two decisive shifts. First, despite a system founded on ‘social ownership’, it moved the locus of administrative control to regional, especially republican, political leaderships.


Political System State Apparatus Party Member Interest Community Socialist Society 
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  1. 1.
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© St Antony’s College, Oxford 1984

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  • Sharon Zukin

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