Sunday, May 30, 2021
With financial support from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ International Keynote Speakers Support Fund
As in the rest of Eastern Europe, 1945 marked a radical break in Hungary from the right-wing authoritarianism of the interwar period. Though the consolidation of communism in 1948 undoubtedly brought new forms of oppression prior to the 1956 Revolution, land reform, nationalization, and affirmative action nevertheless helped create a society with relatively low social differences. This talk focuses on the attempts to manage social inequalities in Hungary under the leadership of János Kádár between 1956 and 1988. Though the regime raised living standards considerably and effectively abolished discrimination by social origin, market-inspired economic reform policies introduced in the 1960s gave rise to growing social differences, while bureaucratic efforts at redistribution provoked new kinds of inequalities. Cultural policies may have been inspired by an emancipatory vision, however they did not prevent the transmission of cultural capital, and state subsidies did not subvert patterns of cultural consumption. Despite Kádár’s attempts to mitigate social inequalities in socialist Hungary, policies pertaining to women were antinomic in their effect on gender equality, while ethnic policy served as a tool of Hungarian foreign politics.
- Róbert Takács, Research Fellow at the Institute of Political History, Budapest, Hungary, and Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly journal Múltunk