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Photo: “Budapest: Hungarian Parliament“, by Jorge Franganillo licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Szilagyi, Istvan, Laszlo Kelemen, Sam Gilchrist Hall, and Tamas Juhasz. Changing Legal and Civic Culture in Illiberal Democracy. London: Routledge, 2021.


Changing Legal and Civic Culture in an Illiberal Democracy is a unique empirical study on recent developments in legal and civic consciousness in Hungary. Drawing its methodology from social psychology, this book illuminates a shift in legal consciousness during the time in which Orbán’s government has cemented Hungary’s reputation as an illiberal democracy.

The book foregrounds the voices of the Hungarian population in how they view the shift towards increasingly right-wing politics and an erosion of the rule of law. It opens with an extensive theoretical introduction of the historical development and psychological dimensions of legal consciousness in Hungary and relates the Hungarian research to international developments. It then presents its empirical results and offers a jargon-free account of ordinary people’s changing perceptions of their relationship to Hungary’s civic and legal cultures, before finally examining the correlations between surveys. Methodologically, the book establishes that theories of legal consciousness and social change are bolstered by empirical data.

Offering a new way of approaching shifts in legal consciousness and the rule of law in Balkan and Eastern European countries, this text will be of great interest to researchers and students of social psychology, law, international relations and Central European studies.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.