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7 Accommodation and the Limits of Economic Reform: Industrial Workers during the Making and Unmaking of Kádár’s Hungary

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Chapter Summary

This chapter sets the working class discontent that surrounded the economic reform of 1968 in its context by arguing that it was a product of the dynamics of Kádárist rule, insofar as it impacted on the industrial working class. The regime's political consolidation after 1956 relied on it being able to cast itself as the authentic representative of the working class. In order to do this, it had to construct a social settlement in the factories over the course of the 1960s that accepted a range of informal practices and hierarchies that had emerged during the industrialisation drives of the 1950s. This settlement rhetorically and materially privileged the urban, male, skilled core of the working class. At the same time, however, it pursued a strategy of increasing living standards through the promotion of socialist consumerism.

Keywords: economic reform; Hungary; industrialisation; political consolidation; socialist consumerism



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