2001 volume 33(4) pages 573 – 587

Cite as:
Herrschel T, Forsyth T, 2001, "Constructing a new understanding of the environment under postsocialism" Environment and Planning A 33(4) 573 – 587

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Constructing a new understanding of the environment under postsocialism

Tassilo Herrschel, Timothy Forsyth

Received 19 June 2000; in revised form 23 November 2000

Abstract. This paper introduces a special grouping of papers on the theme of the environment and postsocialism. After the collapse of state socialism in Europe between 1989 and 1991, many immediate approaches to environmental reconstruction assumed that economic liberalisation and democratisation would alleviate problems. Since then, critics have argued that these proposed solutions were themselves problematic, and too closely reflected Western European and North American conceptions of environmental quality and democracy. The result has been a counterreaction focusing on detail and specificity at national levels and below. In this paper, we summarise debates about the environment and postsocialism since the period 1989 - 91. In particular, we examine whether an essentialistic link can be made between state socialism and environmental problems, and how far civil society -- or environmentalism -- may result in an improvement in perceived environmental quality. Finally, we consider the possibility for developing an approach to the environment and postsocialism that lies between crude generalisation and microscale studies.

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