„Jani Kádár can get the fuck off ”

Resilience in the sate socialist Hungary

The issue of poverty and social exclusion in the East Central European region is of foremost interest and has been examined in a variety of studies. The range of case studies reaches from the states of Central Eastern Europe to the former Soviet Union, which were once bound together by the political doctrine of state socialism. In these countries, research on poverty, social exclusion and related issues makes up a large part of current scientific output, as scholarly communities have recognized the importance of the shift and the necessity to analyze the social status and everyday life of the excluded groups within the former state socialist societies. Critical sociology research under state socialism was characterized by a particular angle, as it strove to uncover the forgotten phenomena in the society of that period. A pivotal component of this research was the assumption that members and groups of the society preserved some habits rooted in their traditions, even within the state socialist political climate, and strove to create a degree of relative autonomy for themselves. This leads to the realization that there is one structure of society, constructed virtually by the underlying power, and there is another, which subsists underneath the first structure and made invisible by the institutions of the dictatorship. This essay is an attempt for adaptation of the concept resilience to the period of state socialism, and especially the Kadar-era. The author first reviews the theoretical interpretations of the society at the time, and then, through an in-depth interview conducted in relation to poverty research of the era, he analyzes the individual and collective resilience, or flexibility that allowed the marginalized and excluded groups to retain their resistance in the face of consolidating authority. The reason why individuals were not capable of collective action is illustrated in research describing societal atomization under the dictatorial period. In the study, he examines the materials of the research on poverty and Roma in the seventies and eighties, as narrative sources conveying individual and collective experiences. Based on this, he portrays the conduct of repressed individuals and communities as flexible essence-retaining survival and a complex behavioural and relational system against the dominant power — a conduct that cannot be easily described as resistance or collaboration — based on which one can assess not only the endurance of the state socialist regime, but also its collapse.

Released: Replika 94, 95–112.
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