I occasionally have doubts about the quality of political science research – or rather I occasionally have doubts the quantity of political science research and the number of journals, working papers and articles you often have to wade through to find anything which is interesting and worth reading. These days the average literature review can be a bit like panning for gold. So it’s always a pleasure when something unexpectedly flashes and catches your eye. In this case some of the online papers lined up for seminar series on political mobilization at Masaryk University’s Institute for Comparative Politics Research. A very interesting paper by Ondřej Čísař building on Sidney Tarrow’s by now fairly well known article about the importance of transactional (as opposed to participatory) social mobilization in CEE, debunking some of the literature on the supposedly nefarious dependency inducing effects of Western funding of CEE NGOs. Neo-Toquevillian notions of a ‘vibrant civil society’ (now how many times have you heard that phrase?) have blinded researchers to the reality that in CEE as increasingly in the old EU15 (but not the US) elite-run advocacy groups with the odd short burst of popular mobilization are pretty much as good as it gets. Moreover, domestic fundraising if anything generates greater pressures oto blunt whatever radical edge social movements and advocacy groups might have Čísař arguments. Grants from foreign foundations and governments and the EU, if anything, probably have bankrolled the injection of new ideas and agendas into CEE not thwarted a nascent social movement sector.
Fans of the literature on neo-corporatism will also probably like an informative paper on the site on Czech tripartitism, which also punctures some of the more causal arguments about ‘ilusory corporatism’. There isn’t a facility to insert comments, but should the author should be reading, personally, I thought the case study on the new Labour Code worked pretty well (but could be cut in length) and that lashings of additional data on Czech unions weren’t really needed. The real issue seem to be that Czech tripartitism rather unremarkable and hard to place comparatively. It ain’t as clearly corporatist as Slovenia nor as rampantly liberal as Estonia, but beyond that it’s hard to get a handle on where the CR and the dynamics of its ‘manifestations of corporation’ fits in the big comparative picture. When I hear the words ‘Czech-Slovak comparision’ I normally reach for my gun, but in this case it might be a good next move.