Political culture and the legacy of socialism in unified Germany

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Almost a quarter of a century after German unification, studies continue to
uncover pervasive attachments to socialism in the former East. While these
attachments have been a recurrent feature in analyses of political culture, surprisinglylittle is known about their sources. This article systematically explores the socio-political foundations of socialist values, by subjecting two theoretical perspectives to empirical testing. Political socialisation perspectives attribute these values to generationally based political identities that were forged in the pre-1989 era. Political economy perspectives, by contrast, stress how they have been reinforced by negative post-1989 evaluations of politics and materialism. Logistic regression analyses of ALLBUS data from 1991 to 2010 test nine hypotheses at the individual level, with the results confirming the following. First, there is evidence of an age-based structure to the foundations of socialist values: younger easterners are less likely to value socialism, but the evidence of this has emerged only recently. Second, equally important drivers of these values are support for parties on the left of the political spectrum and ideological self-placement. Third, economic factors have been selective and inconsistent predictors of socialist values. Overall, the research underscores the stability of socialist values in the German context, but argues that these values remain compatible with a political culture that is supportive of the democratic framework of unified Germany.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-291
Number of pages21
JournalGerman Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2015


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