You can lead a horse to water, but you can't (always) make it drink: Postive freedom in the aftermath of German unification

L. K. Davidson-Schmich, K. Hartmann, U. Mummert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article investigates the degree to which the East Germans have acted on the freedoms they gained after the fall of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Initially, many observers expected that the East Germans would quickly take advantage of their political, religious, and economic freedoms to become as entrepreneurial, partisan, and religious as their Western counterparts. Over the past decade, however, social scientists have discovered the persistence of 'Leninist legacies,' arguing that the East Europeans' socialization under communism will make them reluctant to act on the before-mentioned freedoms. Contrary to both of these expectations, we find considerable variation in the Easterners' behavior. In the economic sphere, while the Easterners have been willing to engage in legal market activity, they have been reluctant to get involved with gray market activity. In the political realm the elites have embraced partisan politics more thoroughly than have ordinary citizens. Finally, the Easterners have flocked neither to the Catholic and Protestant churches nor to new religious movements like Scientology. These results suggest that the combination of Western rights and Eastern Leninist legacies has created a unique incentive structure in East Germany. The Easterners face a different cost-benefit calculus than do the Westerners and, as a result, at times are less willing to act on their positive freedoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-352
Number of pages28
JournalCommunist and Post-Communist Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • Communist legacies
  • German unification
  • Gray markets
  • New religious movements
  • Party membership
  • Post-communism and religion
  • Post-communist economics
  • Post-communist parties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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