ABSTRACT

The research on economic actors in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) can be divided into two periods. In the early stages of the transition from planned to market economy, elite research played an important role, for several reasons. As the implementation of the market economy and electoral democracy was not the result of an evolutionary process but started with top-down decisions, the role of elites, and elite conflicts and collaborations, was crucial; the transition of the ‘cadre elite’ to a pluralist, sectorally differentiated elite was in the making and the question was who would gain control over these sectors, especially to what extent would the old ‘cadre elites’ manage to become the new ‘propertied class’ by converting their political power into economic capital. In the early studies, this issue of ‘class formation’ was raised within the classic elite categories of elite reproduction vs circulation (cf. for example Dogan and Higley 1998; Eyal et al. 1998; Higley and Lengyel 2000; Walder 2003; King and Szelényi 2005; for a critique of the elite approach, see Burawoy 2001).