East European Communities: The Struggle for Balance in Turbulent Times

By David A. Kideckel | Go to book overview

2
Labyrinths of Freedom:
An Agricultural Community
in Post-Socialist Hungary

Ildiko Vasary


Understanding the East European Transformation

Eastern Europe today is an increasingly popular locale for academic research. Pens are poised to analyze the unique transition of socialism to capitalism, democracy, and a market economy. One of the most interesting phenomena that observers have noted is the contradiction between the momentous political changes of regime and the far slower pace of actual social and economic transformation ( Kolosi & Robert 1992, Agh 1992, Andorka 1992). This contrast has thus apparently contributed to a frustration among East European peoples resulting from the real possibilities of total transformation compared to the actuality of piecemeal change. Though this contradiction is rife throughout the former socialist countries, Hungary was first able to avoid it as Kadar's pragmatic style of market socialism allowed the country through the 1970s and 1980s to tiptoe away, so to speak, from much of socialist ideology and practice. The change of regime therefore, although politically and historically momentous, did not have an immediate shock effect on society. This, however, is not the case in the 1990s.

Policies unveiled by the new regime have opened up multiple avenues of change of labyrinth-like complexity 1 which the political leadership, economic advisors, and most of all society must negotiate together. The rural population, most affected by the brutal change of the human-land relationship through collectivization in 1950-1960, is now experiencing, perhaps more acutely than any other section of society, the uncertainty of freedom and the related choices

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