Rethinking theories of transitions in the Former Soviet Union
This dissertation seeks to provide an empirical evaluation of whether scholars are justified in calling for the end of the transition paradigm, the dominant model of democratization study among Comparative Politics scholars. My thesis argues that the predominant emphasis on elections and institutions among transition theorists is largely ineffective in understanding democratic transitions in the former Soviet Union. To test my thesis, I conduct qualitative case studies of Ukraine and Russia that focus on the role of elections and institutions in the transition process.
Under the transitions model, one would reasonably expect the transition process in each country to be relatively similar, given the similar timing and manner in which elections and institutions were implemented, coupled with strong geographic, cultural, and historic commonalities. Instead, both cases have experienced highly divergent paths of development with varied levels of success.
This comprehensive study sheds serious doubt on the ability of the transitions model to accurately comprehend the dynamics of democratic development in the former Soviet Union. Though many scholars have criticized certain assumptions or components of the transitions model, few if any, have constructed a comprehensive, empirical analysis of the transitions model on its own terms.
0616: International law
0616: International relations
0724: Russian history