This dissertation is based on ethnographic research conducted in the village of Balástya, Hungary between 2001-2003. It is concerned with the nature of post-socialist life as lived, interpreted, and negotiated by rural people after the collapse of state-socialism. It discusses post-socialist life and economy and how rural people express their conceptions of the past, present and future. My central question is simple. What happens to people's identity and how people invent new ways of generating livelihoods when the political, economic and social system of forty-five years of socialism--a frame of reference that people used and lived through--vanishes and an extralocal economic model is crudely mapped on the lived landscape of everyday reality?
As this ethnography demonstrates, post-socialist life is filled with anxiety. I claim that the anxiety is driven and fueled by the transformation from socialism to capitalism, and by the visible gap between observed phenomena of the "lived post-socialism" and the political-economic discourses of "capitalism."
This study examines this critical and anxious transformation through the prism of a local economic innovation that I coin the "hoop-house economy." It investigates its emergence, endurance and persistence over time and argues that the shifting meanings of the hoop-house economy accurately mirror this transformation from market-socialism to market-capitalism, all the way up to the creation of the EU's market.
Conceptually, the model of the hoop-house economy demonstrates the dialectical relationship between economy's two spheres--house and market. I distinguish among three types of the hoop-house economy, which I call 1) minimal, 2) liminal and 3) maximal and argue that the liminal hoop-house economy best represents the tension between economy's two value domains--commensurate and incommensurate--in post-socialist Hungary.
This work challenges generalizations and broad assumptions about the transformation from socialism to capitalism. By examining this transformation through the complexities of local practices and ordinary life, my dissertation extends, but also complicates macro-level analyses, illuminating the linkages between changing political and economic institutions and the micro-level of everyday reality.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. Major: Anthropology. Advisor: Stephen Gudeman. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 358 pages, appendices 1-5.
Contradictory economies in post-socialist rural Hungary: the emergence, endurance and persistence of the hoop-house economy in Balastya..
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