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

Hann, Chris. “The Dialectics of Disembedding and Civil Society in Provincial Hungary.” Europe-Asia Studies 73, no. 9 (2021): 1596-1621.


This essay applies Karl Polanyi’s concepts of embedding and countermovement to provincial Hungary during and after socialism. Comprehensive state socialist repression in the 1950s was a politics-led disembedding. An economy-led countermovement began in the 1960s, later augmented by elite discourses of civil society. The 1970s and 1980s were decades of socialist embeddedness. Neoliberal configurations after 1990 dislocated both economic and associational life. The illiberal democracy of Viktor Orbán is a more consequential countermovement than the earlier countermovements to state socialism. The argument is illustrated with data from long-term fieldwork in southern Hungary, in the region of the Danube-Tisza Interfluve.

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.