The Utopia of Postsocialist Theory and the Ironic View of History in Neoclassical Sociology

Eyal, Gil; Szelenyi, Ivan; Townsley, Eleanor

Michael Burawoy offers three thought-provoking criticisms of our book, Making Capitalism without Capitalists: Class Formation and Elite Struggles in Post-Communist Central Europe: (1) that we abandon class analysis, (2) that we do not suggest an alternative to the present capitalist order, and, therefore, (3) that our “neoclassical sociology” abandons the critical vision of classical sociology. At this abstract level, we plead not guilty to all three charges. Moving beyond these abstractions, we reformulate Burawoy’s criticisms empirically, and ask the following questions: 1. Is interclass struggle the central cause of social change in the transformation from communism to capitalism? 2. Using social scientific tools, can we identify a noncapitalist (or to be less shy about it, a socialist) alternative to the “actually existing” socioeconomic systems of the postcommunist world? 3. Is it necessary to have a vantage point “outside” a system to critically analyze its mechanisms and dynamics? Burawoy answers these questions in the affirmative; our answer to each is an emphatic no.



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American Journal of Sociology

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The University of Chicago Press
Published Here
July 30, 2015