Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State

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This study examines the process by which the seemingly impossible in 1987--the disintegration of the Soviet Union--became the seemingly inevitable by 1991, providing an original interpretation not only of the Soviet collapse, but also of the phenomenon of nationalism more generally. Probing the role of nationalist action as both cause and effect, Beissinger utilizes extensive event data and detailed case studies from across the USSR during its final years to elicit the shifting relationship between pre-existing structural conditions, institutional constraints, and event-generated influences in the massive nationalist explosions that brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union.  As Beissinger demonstrates, the "tidal" context of nationalism--that is, the transnational influence of one nationalism upon another--is critical to an explanation of the success and failure of particular nationalisms, the ability of governments to repress nationalist challenges, why some nationalisms turn violent, and how a mounting crescendo of events can potentially overwhelm states, periodically evoking large-scale structural change in the character of the state system.

Winner of the 2003 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, presented by the American Political Science Association for the best book published in the United States on government, politics, or international affairs (click here to see citation); Winner of the 2003 Mattei Dogan Award, presented by the Society for Comparative Research for the best book published in the field of comparative research (click here to see citation); Winner of the 2003 Award for Best Book on European Politics, presented by the Organized Section on European Politics and Society of the American Political Science Association.

Cambridge University Press
Cambridge, UK