Blindness to success. Social-psychological obstacles along the way to a market economy in Eastern Europe
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This paper explores moral and social-psychological objectives important to the functioning of the market system in the new Eastern and Central European democracies. The aim is to analyse the new economic and social relations established by the Eastern European transition, especially how they differ from Western structures and how they evolved during the transition period. The analysis uses data from cross-national surveys on attitudes taken in 1991 and 1996. These focused on attitudes towards and views about justice, a just society, and the principles of just distribution, and touched, albeit indirectly, on the general lack of confidence and envy. Based on this empirical data our study examines attitudes towards economic actors, but the findings are interpretable both at the system level and within wider social relations. Operationalizing attitudes towards economic actors is one way to examine attitudes towards the rich under market circumstances. Wealth is a manifestation of economic success in a market situation and exemplifies the extent of social inequalities. Public attitudes towards the rich are not independent of people's judgments of economic institutions or the guiding principles of the market economy. The analysis was extended to the socio-psychological inclinations and preferences of the new Eastern European market economies at the time of the transition. Comparing East and West for acceptance and rejection of market rules and the attitudinal background allows testing for embeddedness and legitimation of market systems in post-socialist societies.
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