Workshop "Institutional Change in Political Economies and Varieties of Methods in Social Science Research on Postcommunism"
The workshop “Institutional Change in Political Economies and Varieties of Methods in Social Science Research on Postcommunism” aimed to bridge the gap between scientific events that focus merely on the methodology of social sciences on the one hand and events which only take empirical work on the transition in the postsocialist countries into account on the other. It took place at the Ludwig-Maximilans-University (LMU) in Munich on the 19th and 20th of May 2017 and was conducted by Alexander Libmann (LMU Munich) and Peter Wegenschimmel (Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies).
The first panel laid the methodological foundation for the later presentations on empirical projects. EEVA KESKÜLA (Tallinn), CARSTEN HERRMANN-PILLATH (Erfurt), ADAM MROZOWICKI (Wrocław) and ANDREI YAKOVLEV (Moscow) shed light on the present state of methods in social science. The discussion concentrated around four key questions: 1. “How do methods travel across boundaries?” 2. “How do theories travel across boundaries?” 3. “How can we make sure, that our research captures the region of ‘Eastern Europe’?” and 4. “What is ‘Eastern Europe’?”
The second panel was entitled “Transformations of State Agency”. PIOTR KOZARZEWSKI (Lublin) opened the panel with his presentation on “Evolution of the Ownership Role of the State during Post-Communist Transition. The Case of Poland” The following two presentations shifted the perspective towards Russia. ANDREI YAKOVLEV (Moscow) examined the view on national leadership through the lens of investors. MICHAEL ROCHLITZ (Munich) examined regional investment promotion agencies in Russia. Concluding this panel, PETER WEGENSCHIMMEL (Regensburg) shed light on transformation processes, using the examples of the transformations of the Uljanik shipyard in Pula (present-day Croatia) and Gdynia shipyard (Poland).
VASSIL KIROV (Sofia) opened the third panel, which was devoted to “Transformations of Industrial Relations”. His presentation focused on the post-crisis developments of industrial-relations in Southeastern Europe. MARTA KAHANCOVÁ (Bratislava) directed her view towards the role of labor unions in Central Europe. An example of an empirical research project on labor in the context of Eastern Europe was given by KATHRIN JURKAT (Berlin), who concentrates on workers in the Serbian town of Zrenjanin and the impact of the post-socialist transformation on them. The last speaker of the third panel, BARBARA KRUG (Frankfurt/Main), integrated with her talk “Governance – Not Government! Insights from the Empirical Analysis of China’s Economic Transformation” the specific case of China into the workshop.
The concluding panel was devoted to “Transformations in Informality”. During his presentation on “Shifting Boundaries of Work: Precarity in the Post-Transformational Poland” ADAM MROZOWICKI (Wrocław) demonstrated how precarity in labor relations went hand in hand with the capitalist transformation in Poland. EEVA KESKÜLA (Tallinn) presented her work, comparing Russian-speaking mining communities in Estonia and Kazakhstan. Further on the subject of labor and its transformations MAJA BREZNIK (Ljubljana) shed light on so-called “second hand workers”. The workshop was completed by ALLA BOLOTOVA’s (Saint Petersburg) presentation on “Transformations of Communities, Industries and the State in Single Industry Towns in the Russian Arctic.”
In conclusion, the workshop presented a valuable contribution both to the methodological foundations of social science research in Eastern Europe and to empirical work on economic transformation in postsocialism. Especially enriching was the international atmosphere, which was created by the international participants and their diverse perspectives on the subject.