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GGK/GCSC Post/Doc Perspectives: The Socio-Economic Transformation of Eastern Europe: Hungary’s Second Age of Reforms, 1979-1994.


04.07.2017 von 12:00 bis 14:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)


GGK/GCSC Gebäude, Alter Steinbacher Weg 38, R. 001

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The Socio-Economic Transformation of Eastern Europe: Hungary’s Second Age of Reforms, 1979-1994.


During the recent economic crisis, Europe witnessed a return of policy recommendations for fiscal austerity. For East Europeans, this was an old tune: in the early 1990s, the former socialist countries had implemented such reforms. Regardless of the human toll, these neoliberal policies had been proposed as not only necessary but inevitable steps towards ‘free’ market economies, the supposed premise for democracy and prosperity.

Sociologists and anthropologists have dominated the study of neoliberalism’s impact and legacy in Eastern Europe (e.g. by Valerie Bunce, Johanna Bockmann, Dorothee Bohle and Béla Greskovits). Only recently have historians, notably Philipp Ther, queried the socio-economic aspects of the recent past.
This lecture is based on an ongoing research project that investigates the public debate about reforms in Hungary in the 1980s through the lens of a weekly, the HVG (Héti Világgazdaság). The HVG offered a forum for discussing alternative concepts and policy solutions to the problems and shortcomings of existing state socialism. Hence, the project contributes an alternative narrative to the alleged inevitability of neoliberalism and its supposed imposition from abroad.

Hungary represents a curious and representative case study: The country was home to many renowned economists, such as János Kornai, Tamás Bauer and Tamás Nagy who offered daring analyses and sound policy recommendations. In 1989, “goulash communism” and the country’s reformist background seemed to usher in a smooth transition to a market economy. However, Hungary’s economic performance since has been marred in problems and provided at best mixed results. This lecture seeks to eclipse hindsight and revisit the debate about the country’s future before 1989.


// Dr Victoria Harms.
Herder Institute/ GCSC Associated Postdoctoral Researcher
With a response by Prof. Dr Peter Haslinger, Herder Institute.