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De-authoritarization in Uzbekistan?: Analysis and Prospects

Robert M. Cutler

Abstract: This chapter assesses the potentials for and constraints upon progressive political change in Uzbekistan. Its first part establishes a point of reference by discussing the recent reinvigoration of elite theory as a result of studies of post-communist transformations in East Central Europe in the 1990s. It begins by distinguishing different approaches to the study of those transformations and how the “transformation” approach differs from the “transition” approach. It discusses the implications of the empirical findings in East Central Europe for the classics of elite theory from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It then systematizes the differences between the “power elite” and “polyarchy” ideal-types, whereupon it establishes a middle ground between them that offers an empirical criterion representing a starting-point for assessing the degree of “de-authoritarization” (as distinct from “democratization”) of an authoritarian regime such as Uzbekistan’s. In order to flesh out certain auxiliary concepts necessary for applying the criterion, it gives an example of the applic a tion of that criterion to the Khrushchev era in the Soviet Union (1953–64). The Khrushchev example allows an explan a tion of how the criterion is implemented with the aid of three auxiliary concepts: (bottom-up) “mobilization of the public sphere”, (top-down) “conformance of civil society” and (middle-level) “consolidation of organized officialdom”. With this framework, the rest of the chapter looks at political change in Uzbekistan since 1983, the necessary starting-point for understanding the present situation. Two cycles of political change are evident. The first stretches from 1983 until 1989 and comprises three phases: consolidation, conformance and mobilization. The second cycle stretches from 1989 to the present and comprises phases of mobilization, conformance and consolidation in that order. What these phases represent is specified in terms of what they imply for the structural transformation[1] of the political system (as an ensemble of elite, regime and community sectors)[2] and for political articulation and its issue areas.[3] The conclusion to the chapter summarizes the insights that arise and consequent prospects for political reform and de-authoritarization in Uzbekistan.

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  1. Elite theory and political change in Central Asia
  2. Limited de-authoritarization: example of a political cycle
    • Table 2. Phases of de-authoritarization under Khrushchev.
  3. Political change in Uzbekistan: the 1983–1989 cycle
  4. Political change in Uzbekistan: the cycle from 1989 to the present
  5. Conclusion
  6. References
Suggested citation for this webpage:

Abstract of: Robert M. Cutler, “De-authoritarization in Uzbekistan?: Analysis and Prospects,” in Irina Morozova (ed.), Towards Social Stability and Democratic Governance in Central Eurasia: Challenges to Regional Security (Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2005), pp. 120–141; available at ⟩http://www.robertcutler.org/ch05im.htm⟩, accessed 24 March 2017 .

[ page 120 ]

[Page 120 contains the above Abstract.]


[Note 1]. Jean Piaget, Le structuralisme (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1968).

[Note 2]. David Easton, The Political System: An Inquiry into the State of Political Science (New York: Knopf, 1953); Easton, A Framework for Political Analysis (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1965); Easton, The Analysis of Political Structure (New York: Routledge, 1990).

[Note 3]. Robert M. Cutler, “Soviet Dissent under Khrushchev: An Analytical Study”, Comparative Politics 13, no.1 (October 1980): 15–35.

Dr. Robert M. Cutlerwebsiteemail ] was educated at MIT and The University of Michigan, where he earned a Ph.D. in Political Science, and has specialized and consulted in the international affairs of Europe, Russia, and Eurasia since the late 1970s. He has held research and teaching positions at major universities in the United States, Canada, France, Switzerland, and Russia, and contributed to leading policy reviews and academic journals as well as the print and electronic mass media in three languages.

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Text: Copyright © Robert M. Cutler
First Web-published: 20 July 2007
Content last modified: 20 July 2007
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