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External Politics—Internal Rivalries

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Social Science Scholarship and Political Change in Communist Hungary

In this article, the author discusses two episodes in the history of Hungarian communist era social scientific research where changes occurring within the academic field had major tremors of momentous political change as their background. The first case is the breakthrough of an empiricist research program in economics in 1954–56, no doubt enabled and conditioned by the New Course following Stalin’s death. The second case is the purge in social theory and sociology (the so-called “Philosophers’ Process”) in the first half of the 1970s propelled by the conservative backlash in high politics in the wake of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. The main objective of the article is to explain the seeming paradox that in these two seemingly opposite kinds of cases (the one in the mid-1950s was about the emancipation of the field from under the yoke of Stalinist ideology, while the one in the early 1970s was undoubtedly a case of political repression) the transformation of the field was reasoned about and justified with the same positivist scientific ethos of a politically and ideologically unbiased, “value-free” science.

Affiliations: 1: Norwegian University of Science and Technology,


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