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Political Epistemics : The Secret Police, the Opposition, and the End of East German Socialism - Andreas Glaeser

Political Epistemics

The Secret Police, the Opposition, and the End of East German Socialism

Paperback Published: 15th February 2011
ISBN: 9780226297941
Number Of Pages: 672

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What does the durability of political institutions have to do with how actors form knowledge about them? Andreas Glaeser investigates this question in the context of a fascinating historical case: socialist East Germany's unexpected self-dissolution in 1989. His analysis builds on extensive in-depth interviews with former secret police officers and the dissidents they tried to control as well as research into the documents both groups produced. In particular, Glaeser analyzes how these two opposing factions' understanding of the socialist project came to change in response to countless everyday experiences. These investigations culminate in answers to two questions: why did the officers not defend socialism by force? And how was the formation of dissident understandings possible in a state that monopolized mass communication and group formation? He also explores why the Stasi, although always well informed about dissident activities, never developed a realistic understanding of the phenomenon of dissidence.
Out of this ambitious study, Glaeser extracts two distinct lines of thought. On the one hand he offers an epistemic account of socialism's failure that differs markedly from existing explanations. On the other hand he develops a theory--a sociology of understanding--that shows us how knowledge can appear validated while it is at the same time completely misleading.

"Political Epistemics is a wonderful book that explains at long last the epistemological reasons behind the collapse of Eastern European state socialism. It is a magnificent testimony to the resurgence of the sociology of knowledge and its provocative arguments and conclusions will be debated widely for years to come." - Dominic Boyer, Rice University"

List of Illustrationsp. ix
List of Abbreviationsp. xi
Prefacep. xv
Acknowledgmentsp. xxxi
Introduction: Understandings, Politics, and Institutionsp. 1
Socialism as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy-The Party's Projectp. 61
From Marx to Conscious Social Transformationp. 65
Aporias of Producing Right Consciousnessp. 120
Contingencies and Dynamics of Understanding-The Theoryp. 163
Constituting Understandings through Validationsp. 165
Dialectics in Spaces of Validationp. 209
Becoming Socialist Men-The Stasi Officersp. 251
Guardians of the Party Statep. 255
Stasi Culture-Authority, Networks, and Discoursesp. 296
Disenchantment, Disengagement, Opposition-The Dissidentsp. 339
When Someone's Eden Becomes Another's Purgatoryp. 341
Forming Groups, Organizing Oppositionp. 399
Policing Understandings-Reproducing Misunderstandingsp. 463
Attempting to Know and Control the Oppositionp. 465
Conclusions: Paralyzing Uncertaintiesp. 527
Referencesp. 567
Indexp. 593
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780226297941
ISBN-10: 0226297942
Series: Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 672
Published: 15th February 2011
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.23 x 15.24  x 3.18
Weight (kg): 0.86