“Pest is Worth a Body”

The Hungarian Porn Industry in the Long Nineties as a Patriarchal Form of Reintegration into the World Economy

In our study, we seek answers to two main questions. First, which antecedents and circumstances influenced the development of the Hungarian porn industry in the “long nineties”, i.e. in the years before the change of the regime, and in the following ten-twelve years. Second, how this process formed a part of Hungary's economic and cultural reintegration into the capitalist world economy since the 1970s. The findings of the research are based on the processing of three types of empirical source material (contemporary press reports; semi-structured interviews with industry or industry insights; autobiographical books of former industry actors) and on an integrative re-reading the sociological, historical and political economy literature of the field. In a World-Systems Theory frame, we examine the domestic and international operating mechanisms of the porn industry consisting of sex magazine publishing and pornographic film production. In the state-socialist era, Hungary had one of the most liberal social and economic policies in the region, and has the most advanced infrastructure. These conditions facilitated the inflow of international (mainly Austrian and German) porn capital during the change of regime. In line with economic liberalism, under state socialism, the rules and guidelines of the advertising industry changed and advertising with a sexualized female body become common practice. The social-economic crisis at the time of the regime change made masses of disadvantaged women vulnerable to the rising porn industry. At the same time, in the mainstream public discourses, porn was considered as an indicator of liberal democracy and a legitimate business enterprise, and in the absence of a significant counter-discourse, most contributors to this discourse gave justification for its industrial operation.

Released: Replika 117–118, 53–91.