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Authorial Self and Modernity as Reflected in Diaries and Memoirs. Three 19th-Century Hungarian Case Studies

Abstract

The role of the diaries and memoirs in the process of the conscious self-reflection and their contribution to the emergence of modern individual personalities are well-known facts of the intellectual history. The present paper intends to analyze a special form of the creation of modern individual character; it is the self-creation of the writer as a conscious personality, often with a clearly formulated opinion about her/his own social role. There will be offered several examples from the 19th-century history of the Hungarian intelligentsia. This period is more or less identical with the modernization of the “cultural industry” in Hungary, dominated by the periodicals with their deadlines, fixed lengths of the articles, and professional editing houses on the one hand and the cultural nation building on the other. Concerning the possible social and cultural role of the intelligentsia, it is the moment of the birth of a new type, so-called public intellectual. I will focus on three written sources, a diary of a Calvinist student of theology, Péter (Litkei) Tóth, the memoirs of an influential public intellectual, Gusztáv Szontagh, and a belletristic printed diary of a young intellectual, János Asbóth.

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Burghers, Intellectuals, and Gentries. The Utopia of Alternative Modernization in the Interwar Hungarian Populist Movement: László Németh, Ferenc Erdei, and István Bibó

Abstract

The paper’s aim is a critical reconstruction concerning the ideas of the most renowned representatives of the Hungarian Popular Movement: László Németh, Ferenc Erdei, and István Bibó. It contextualizes the notion of “populism”, which has semantically become overburdened up to now: it means everything and nothing. The Hungarian Populist Movement must be interpreted in the interwar Central-Eastern European and Hungarian contexts. The notion of dual society was a catchword for the abovementioned thinkers; according to its basic tenet, in Hungarian society, there is a symbiosis of modern and premodern segments. The demand for emancipation of the peasantry as a common denominator was frequently connected with the idea of alternative modernization; it was imagined as an autochthonous development different from the Western European models.

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The Descendants of Former Aristocratic Families in Hungary at the Turn of the 21st Century

Abstract

Historical and social historical researches have extensively explored the social role and history of the Hungarian nobility and aristocracy, but the present situation of the descendants of the former traditional élite has been overlooked by contemporary sociological studies. The aim of this paper is to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive picture concerning the young descendants of the Hungarian aristocratic families living in Hungary at the turn of the 21st century. The results confirm that the examined group has a very good chance of reaching a higher status within the society despite all the disadvantages their parents and grandparents suffered during the communist era. In other words, they possess all socio-demographic factors which make a higher position likely. This advantageous socio-demographic position is interacting with the values and goals transmitted in family upbringing, namely acquiring a diploma and the knowledge of foreign languages. The religious, Christian, and family-centric values also played a considerable role in their education. Among the young descendants of the former aristocratic families, we can distinguish a group which creates a strong informal network and has preserved its special aristocratic identity and filled it with a renewed content.

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Mapping Homogamy of Noble Descendants in Poland. A Case Study of the Genealogy of Descendants of the Great Sejm

Abstract

Since 2005, a unique project has been under way, which aims to collect all possible descendants of the parliamentary élite of the 18th-century Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita). The project resulted in creating an online database called The Genealogy of Descendants of the Great Sejm, which provides a unique source of information about the genealogical structure of people descending from the 18th-century noble élite of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Drawing on these data, this paper aims to open up new lines of inquiry on the dynamics of homogamy of the Polish nobility by analyzing longer trends of several (e.g. five, eight, or even more) generations of nobles (or nobles’ descendants) in Poland over the last two centuries.

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The Noble Family as “Singular Multiplicity”? Redefining the Smoczynski–Zarycki’s Totemic Definition of Nobility through the Lenses of Alain Badiou’s Mathematical Ontology

Abstract

In our paper, we redefine the category of “family” denoting the relationship of selected members of a post-noble/post-aristocratic milieu in Poland using Alain Badiou’s terminology. Badiou’s ontology based on a mathematical set theory and a generic theory is the most developed, complex, and revolutionary ontology of the 20th and 21st centuries. However, it is rarely adapted to new empirical studies probably because of its novelty and complexity. We do not intend to use the empirical case study made by Smoczynski–Zarycki to inform our argument but instead perform a translation of the Durkheim–Lacanian theoretical standpoint from “Totem…” into the category of “singularity” [singularité] in its relation to “the state of situation” [état de la situation] from “Being and Event” (Badiou 2005). This approach seeks to find a universalizing potential of nobility that will allow it to become a relevant subject for truth procedure analysis.

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The Average Citizen Vs. The Court: Polish Citizens Trust in the Judiciary in the Period of Judicial Reforms (From 2015 to the Present)

Abstract

The Constitutional Crisis, which started in 2015 and has resulted in several bills aiming to “repair” the functioning of this institution, has undermined Polish citizens’ trust not only in political institutions such as the Sejm and the President but also in the judiciary. The level of trust in public institutions in general tends to be low in Polish society, but recent events and the circumstances in which the bills regarding the Constitutional Tribunal, common courts, the National Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court were passed, has led to a politicization of judicial institutions. Society, though, is very divided and opinions of the judiciary may vary and may depend on political preferences as well as many other factors.

The aim of this paper is to examine the attitude of Polish society towards the judiciary in the period of time from 2015 until now. I will also analyze the public campaign Just courts (Sprawiedliwe sądy) in the context of media content’s influence on public perception of the judiciary. The findings of this analysis could also contribute to the explanations of government’s ability to pass the bills with decreasing protest from the population even though the bills were deemed unconstitutional.

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Challenges of the Illiberal Democracy in Hungary. Some Aspects to the 2018 Elections

Abstract

Political transformation reached Hungary in parallel with other Central and Eastern European countries at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s. The core of the events, the year of 1989, the so called “annus mirabilis” when, within one year almost the entire Central and Eastern European region stepped onto the path of changes. The actors adopted Western patterns within a short period, institutions of new political systems were established, and a new political power verified and consolidated its legitimacy by free elections. As a final proof of transformation, most of former socialist bloc member states joined both the NATO and the European Union. Hungary had the chance to enter in the 21st century under radically changed and much more favourable conditions than it ever had before. This smooth transformation interrupted by political and economic crisis that finally led to the victory of the opposition that managed to repeat the next elections and implemented the Programme of National Cooperation. The aim of the paper is to analyse why the adoption of the new system enjoys wide support from different social groups and how the old fixations and obsessions persisted in society. This paper also gives a brief explanation about the nature of illiberal democracy in a wider scope and link it with the history of the Hungarian democracy, the (dis) functioning institutions, and confirms the argumentation with some statistical data explaining the correlation between the support of the government and the living standards. It investigates, if the Hungarian illiberal democratic regime interpreted as consequence of the troublesome system changes or if it is rooted in the distorted political system.

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