THE CZECH ECONOMIC ELITE AFTER FIFTEEN YEARS OF POST-SOCIALIST TRANSFORMATION
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The East-Central European post-socialist transformations have now reached a new stage, with the need to address the problems of further modernisation and maintenance in the context of the EU. The role of elites in this process is as intermediators between the influence of the European context and the needs and interests of differentiated internal social structures. Their attitudes and behaviour exhibit a high degree of internal fragmentation and division corresponding to various strategical orientations favouring various societal models. The post-socialist Czech economic elite was initially reproduced out of former state socialist managers and their cadre reserves. After the first phase of economic developments, inspired by neo-liberal radical privatisation and elements of 'shock therapy', and once the new, more European phase ushered in many new factors, there was a distinct decline in the number of 'old-new' economic elite on the scene. In the empirical part of the article the results of several surveys are used to briefly describe the changes in the composition of the Czech economic elite in the 1994-2005 period and to summarise their attitudes and behaviour. The analysis concludes that the current image of a liberal and pro-European Czech elite is consistent with the stable and remarkable progress of the Czech economy since 1999, the considerable wealth, strong profits, and high salaries enjoyed by top elites, and the enhancement of their role in the European economy. There are also some limitations and weak points that diverge from this general picture. The article's conclusions touch on the question of the role of the economic elite in the progress of arriving at more consensual attitudes and behaviour among societal elites as a whole, favouring further economic growth, modernisation and the strengthening of social cohesion in the context of the EU.
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