The emergence of civil society in eastern Europe : Church and state in the Czech Republic, 1992-1998
This thesis examines the relationship between civil society and democracy through a case study of the revival of the Catholic Church in the post-communist Czech Republic. I use an ideal typical conception of civic organisations that emphasises three characteristics: civility, independence, and autonomy. I ask how each of these characteristics is related to democracy and how the degree to which the Czech Catholic Church approximates each characteristic can be explained. Civility - my research challenges the contemporary consensus around the work of Robert Putnam that there is an inverse relationship between civility and associational hierarchy. I show how the organisations and networks in which the Bishops were involved during Communism functioned as schools of democracy, producing the strong civil values of Czech Bishops still in evidence today. The argument indicates that Putnam and other social capital theorists should move beyond the formal level of associations in their search for the causes of civic virtue. Independence - The failure of the church to restitute its property and its continued dependence on the Czech state is conventionally explained by reference to either an historic anti-Catholicism or the contemporary exigencies of justice. I reject these arguments, and show how Church restitution is artificially created as an issue by politicians seeking to build distinct party identities in the difficult circumstances of a society still awaiting the consolidation of new social cleavages. Autonomy - the Church's weak links to the public sphere are generally explained by reference to a communist legacy of anti-political attitudes, or to poor political skills on the part of civic associations. Instead, I argue that the strongest explanatory factor lies with the political programme of the Klaus administration and its post-communist inspired concerns to limit power to the Parliament, and more particularly to the executive, where Klaus' party was dominant. 1 show how Klaus' success was greatly facilitated by the speed of the 'transition', which allowed the easy implementation of a radical ideology by a political entrepreneur who faced little opposition from parliamentary colleagues unable to find 'partners' in a post-Communist atomised society.