Summary: The book seeks to explain recent and dramatic changes in Europe (re: the break-down of socialism) by analysing the role of socialist-era institutions in constructing and then destroying the regime and the state
Method: Comparative case study. Two approaches are combined: sampling on the IV, where cases are chosen on the basis of seemingly similar contexts producing divergent outcomes; and sampling on the DV, where case selection follows the opposite logic, with the same outcome observed in seemingly diverse contexts.
Important Insight: This study supports a perspective on institutions that reinforces the position of those who have argued for the importance of looking at institutions in a historically sensitive and empirically detailed way. In practice, this means viewing institutions as films, not snapshots. Breakdowns occurred b/c of negative institutional feedback, but the timing of the breakdown related to historical events (viz,succession struggles, intraelite struggles over liberalization and in the international realm, the loosening of both national and state boundaries in Europe as a consequence of détente and the Helsinki process).