• John Löwenhardt


The central objective of this book is to generate empirical generalizations that may serve as theoretical propositions on decision making and group influence in Soviet politics. For several reasons, a complete and all-encompassing theory of decision making in the Soviet Union is not the aim. First, a theory of decision making, in my opinion, is not valid unless it is an empirical theory, i.e. a system of logically related, empirically testable, lawlike propositions.1 Such a theory is a human construct based on empirically observed phenomena. A political theory not based on the observable world would be a normative theory and would fall in the category of political philosophy. I believe that our understanding of decision making in Soviet politics is not advanced by excercises in political philosophy. Second, I am well aware of the limitations of the scientific inquiry of Soviet political processes. What we can discover of the goings-on in Soviet political institutions will always remain limited, especially if compared with democratic systems. The construction of a theory would require the availability of many more empirical data than are potentially at our disposal. This is not to say that we are not making any progress; it is a pleasing fact that more and more studies of Soviet decision making are partially based on interviews with the persons involved.


Decision Making Theoretical Proposition Empirical Theory Empirical Generalization Criminal Policy 
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  1. See Lawrence C. Mayer, Comparative Political Inquiry. A Methodological Survey Homewood Ill. 1972, pp. 48–66.Google Scholar
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    Peter H. Solomon, Jr., Soviet Criminologists and Criminal Policy. Specialists in Policy-Making New York 1978, pp. 1–4.Google Scholar
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    Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samuel P. Huntington, Political Power:USA/USSR New York 1964;Google Scholar
  4. Frederick C. Barghoorn, Politics in the USSR Boston & Toronto 1966;Google Scholar
  5. Alfred Meyer, The Soviet Political System. An Interpretation New York 1965.Google Scholar
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    Donald D. Barry, ‘The Specialist in Soviet Policy-making: the adoption of a law’, Soviet Studies Vol. XVI, No. 2 (October 1964), pp. 153–165;Google Scholar
  7. Peter H. Juviler, ‘Family Reforms on the Road to Communism’, in Soviet Policy-Making. Studies of communism in transition edited by Peter H. Juviler and Henry W. Morton, London 1967, pp. 29–60;Google Scholar
  8. Joel J. Schwartz and William R. Keech, ‘Public Influence and Educational Policy in the Soviet Union’, in Roger E. Kanet (Ed.), The Behavioral Revolution and Communist Studies New York 1971, pp. 151–186.Google Scholar
  9. Jerry F. Hough, The Soviet Union and Social Science Theory Cambridge Mass. 1977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© John Löwenhardt 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Löwenhardt
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Eastern European StudiesUniversity of AmsterdamNetherlands

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