I would like to express my sincere gratitude first of all to three institutions: the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford; the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna; and the Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University. I doubt that I could have found a more hospitable and congenial environment for this work anywhere else. I am particularly grateful to Neil J. Smelser and Robert A. Scott, director and associate director of the Center in Stanford, to Krysztof Michalski, director of the Institute in Vienna, and to Samuel Barnes, director of the Center at Georgetown. Without their help and advice I could never have completed this project.
I am indebted also to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and to its Institute of Sociology, where I have worked for many years.
I have received helpful comments from friends and colleagues who took the time to read all or part of the manuscript: from Richard Sennett, Stephen Graubard, Alan M. Olson, Saul Morson, Philippe C. Schmitter, Charles Rupnik, Alexander Smolar, Zaki Laidi, Daniel Wagner, David L. Kirp, Gianfranco Poggi, Egon Matzner, George Schopflin, Csaba Pléh, Robert Manchin Szakolczai, László Bruszt, György Bencze, Ferenc Miszlivetz, and others.
Special thanks are due to my students at Stanford University, Georgetown University, and the Central European University. They witnessed the birth of many of the ideas discussed in this book; they were tough and, at the same time, extremely helpful critics.