New winds of social policy in the East
East Europe’s welfare states have undergone enormous changes in the two and a half decades since Communism collapsed. After forming part of a distinctive Communist political economy for four decades, they have been restructured in market-conforming directions that re-define public and private responsibility for societal well-being. Civil society or nonprofit organizations (NPOs) and market providers have entered the welfare sphere. The present paper maps divergent trajectories of East-Central European (ECE) welfare states and those of the Former Soviet Union (FSU), focusing on persistent legacies as well as innovation, political negotiation over reforms, and the strong influence of the European Union in shaping outcomes. It shows the growing role of NPOs across contemporary ECE and FSU welfare sectors, as advocates and as service providers partnering with governments. While NPOs remain comparatively weak in post-communist states, there is remarkable convergence of democratic and authoritarian regimes around policies of government–NPO partnerships to improve welfare performance.