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Social Change and Political Continuity. Erosion and Stabilisation of Authoritarian Regimes in the 1950s and 1960s

Wann 27.05.2011 um 18:00 bis
28.05.2011 um 19:00
Wo FRIAS Seminarraum EG, Albertstr. 19
Kontakttelefon +49(0)761/203-97376
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Concept and Organization: Anna Catharina Hofmann (Freiburg), Michel Abeßer and Andrés Antolín Hofrichter, Doctoral Fellows


Social Change and Political Continuity. Erosion and Stabilisation of Authoritarian Regimes in the 1950s and 1960s

The Second World War is considered as a political caesura and as the global beginning of a new epoch. In its aftermath, the constellation of the Cold War created a sharp line between “East” and “West”, which seemed to clearly separate the European political stage into Western-liberal systems, and a Marxist-Leninist bloc dominated by the USSR.

In the shadow of this bipolar post-war system, two right-wing authoritarian systems were able to consolidate on the Iberian Peninsula. They managed to compensate for the lost support of the axis powers by integrating themselves into the western bloc. Despite a fundamentally different political design, such dictatorial systems (in the East as in the West) were confronted with far-reaching political, social and cultural processes of change which threatened to erode their power to act and the foundations of their stability.

The workshop aims at a comparative focus on the mechanisms of erosion and strategies for stabilisation of communist dictatorships and the authoritarian systems of the Iberian Peninsula. In doing so, the question of the comparability of the systems and the adequate empirical terms with which to do so are placed right at the centre of discussion. Faced with a fundamental opposition in their ideological appearance, the question of the relative importance of ideological aspects in these processes becomes crucial and opens new perspectives for discussion.

Explaining the durability of those dictatorial systems, the term “erosion” seems to fit much better than the simplistic and often-used dialectic of “consolidation” and “collapse”. Accordingly, the workshop focuses on emerging fields such as “informal practices of power”, “the development of fields of action remote from power” and, “the unintended consequences of policies of modernisation.” One key question is whether the decline of the states' ability to shape society and the observable retreat from certain spheres of society can be considered as erosion or as a stabilisation. Are erosion and stabilisation oppositions, or just two sides of the same coin?

These mechanisms are analysed by way of two complementing perspectives. The presentations in the first panel focus on the claims, ideas and concepts of power of the regime’s elites, the control and organisation of the central institutions of politics and economy, and the discourses behind them. The second panel on the other hand puts the spotlight on individuals and their concrete practices and experiences as for example the concept of “informality” as a central feature of vertical exercise of power and horizontal communication. In this panel, the activities of actors in science, culture and media is brought into the context of processes of erosion and stabilisation.

Programme (PDF)

Conference report (PDF)