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Photo: “Election 2018 in Hungary. Taken on the 8th of April, 2018, around 23.35. Bálna, Budapest. Orbán Viktor announcing the victory of the FIDESZ party.“, by Elekes Andor licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0. Hue modified from the original

Bartha, Eszter, and András Tóth. “The Emasculation of Trade Unions and Workers’ Drift to Neonationalism in Hungary.” Europe-Asia Studies 73, no. 9 (2021): 1726-1747.


Theoretically, the essay is built on Karl Polanyi’s interpretation of disembedding and Chris Hann’s application of this model to post-1989 Eastern Europe. The essay sets out to explain why trade unions failed to become a successful countermovement in the Polanyian sense of the word by analysing four sources of power available to unions. We go on to analyse the social and political consequences of this failure, demonstrating through the analysis of life-history interviews how ‘lonely fighters’ can become rightwing voters and activists, thanks to the rise of a new political culture on the shopfloor.

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.