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Prediction and Prophecy in Communist Studies

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor William Outhwaite



Contrary to Popper’s classic article with this title, it can be argued that the principal failure of Western analyses of communism was not the failure to predict the collapse of most of the communist regimes in and around 1989 but more a failure of prophecy, in the sense of a more speculative theory of the contradictions of those regimes and their unsustainability. The reasons can be found in the polarisation between overblown theories of totalitarianism and excessively bland comparative approaches couched in terms of the, then popular, theories of industrial society and, often, convergence. There were also methodological reasons arising from the positivist shibboleths of factual documentation, with the consequence that dubious statistics were considered better than none, and value-freedom.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Outhwaite W, Ray L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Comparative Sociology

Year: 2011

Volume: 10

Issue: 5

Pages: 691-709

Print publication date: 01/01/2011

Date deposited: 01/06/2010

ISSN (print): 1569-1322

ISSN (electronic): 1569-1330

Publisher: Brill


DOI: 10.1163/156913311X599025


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