Hungarian Social Policy in an International Context: Knowledge Transfer and Its Results in Hungary Before 1945
The study explores the connection between Hungarian social policy discourse and international knowledge production related to social issues in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. According to present analysis the experts developing the Compulsory Sickness Insurance Act of 1891 in Hungary intended it as part of a social engineering plan, as a preventive measure against problems they expected to become more severe in the upcoming years, as industrialization was still in its infancy in the country. As large-scale industry and welfare institutions developed, social policy (especially in 1907 and 1927-28) became a battleground of different parties with varying interests, therefore we can no longer talk about the relatively free adaptation of international knowledge, which characterized the initial steps in the creation of the welfare system. The study reveals that participation in the international transfers of knowledge required experts, whose professional and partially political position was created due to the participation in the transfer. The essay presents how social policy experts succeeded in transferring international knowledge in the field to Hungary, developing relations with the political elite, and contributing to social policymaking through these relations. This account also challenges the notion that in the final decades of dualism the government’s liberalism became “self-preserving”, as the political elite was receptive towards the input of social policy experts and was ready to handle the social issues emerging with industrialization by creating new institutions. Finally, the study examines the channels of knowledge transfer established by Hungary’s membership in the International Labour Organization (ILO) between the two World Wars, and the international social policy guidelines which were adopted into Hungarian legislation due to the country’s ILO membership.
Reform in the Name of Christian Nationalism: Transnational Aspects of a Neo-Catholic Political Enterprise
The essay seeks to broaden existing perspectives on the ideology of Neo-Catholic reform during the last years of the 1930s in Hungary. Following a decade marked by conservative consolidation, Hungary after the Great Depression experienced a shift towards various New Right positions, that became dominant in the establishment. Neo-Catholics gained considerable influence after the successive failures of Gyula Gömbös’ quasi-fascist reform plans and the subsequent Darányi government. The group of experts and activists around influential scholar turned propaganda chief Béla Kovrig presented in turn a program that sought to integrate corporatist, Neo-Catholic social thought and the autocratic trends observable in the decade – to which Hungary was no exception. The essay examines two attempts engineered by Kovrig – the integration of existing labour organizations and constitutional reform in the spirit of corporatism – in an effort to find the place of this ideological stream. Using previously unreferenced archival material, the essay contributes to the discourse by mapping transnational connections that shaped the ideas of Neo-Catholic reform in Hungary. The image that emerges is a complex one: it is clear that autocratic corporatists states left their mark as general ideals to be approximated, while at the level of specific policies, the totalitarian states – Italy and Germany – influenced practical thinking more, despite a refusal to accept a totalitarian turn in Hungarian politics.
The Detached House in Hungarian Housing Policy After World War II: Transfer, Adoption, Hybridization
The essay analyses the role of the detached house as a type of accommodation in the housing policy of post-war Hungary in comparison to Western Germany. Since it is a controversial type of housing in the discourse of architecture, the detached house is a suitable example for showing the aims and guidelines of the state in solving the resurfacing housing problems after WWII. It also allows us to explore how the international (primarily West German) examples in solving the housing issue were adopted and applied to Hungary by the new architectural and intellectual elite emerging in the years following the war. The Hungarian architectural elite, which was an important participant of the European architectural and housing discourse before and immediately after the Second World War, realized how pressing the housing situation was, and tried to modernize housing in Hungary by following Western models. These modern approaches however came in conflict with the housing traditions of the countryside. This was the main reason why the Hungarian architectural elite refused to accept the detached house as a form of mass housing and considered the prevalent desire to live in a detached house to be psychosis, not a reasonable need. At the turn of the 1950s and 60s housing became an important area of the search – by a contemporary expression – for the modern socialist lifestyle. Witnessing the popularity of the detached house the participants of this discourse considered whether this type of accommodation was compatible with the new, socialist social organization. This discourse clearly shows that the aversion towards the detached house adopted from modern architectural trends has been amended by a new argument, which attempted to stop the spread of this form of housing not because of economic or aesthetic reasons, but because it was deemed unfit for the new society. Therefore, the original idea transformed and got modified during the transfer.
Consumption in East-Central Europe after WWII: Political Determinants and Transnational Connections
The study explores the characteristics of the consumer culture of East-Central European communist societies – Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary – during the decades following WWII. It argues that the significant role of politics in the formation of consumption patterns and consumer culture was a major feature of the region’s consumption history during this time period, but consumption policy shouldn’t be considered the sole determinant of changes. Besides consumption policy, economic and social factors should also be taken into account. The effects of consumption policy were not as significant as several previous studies suggest. The widening gap between consumer aspirations and the actual possibilities was the most important factor shaping consumption policy. In general, the level of consumption advanced in the region during the decades after 1950, but consumer satisfaction didn’t increase with it, and even started to decline towards the end of the period. The rapid rise in consumer aspirations had several reasons, but we consider the transnational factors, namely the demonstration effects of Western countries to be the most significant. Economic policy reacted to this with changes in direction, but these measures were strongly constrained by the political and economic system. This constellation can help us understand how East-Central European consumer culture was connected to political changes, and how it contributed to the destabilization of the communist regimes.
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