The paper is organized in the following way. The first section outlines the basic conceptual framework, emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between economics and politics. Social orders are defined and are shown to differ in the degree to which competition is prevalent, and the extent to which this competition is resolved according to impersonal, universally enforced rules. The second section proposes an explanation for the variation in how competition is channeled across the postcommunist region. It is suggested that different patterns of integration with the international economy, as manifested in the structure of a country’s export profile, can help increase our understanding of the sources of social order across the region. The third section provides some preliminary evidence to support this explanation.