Pataki, Ferenc Collection
Budapest Arany János utca 32, Hungary 1051
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Name of collection
- Collection of Pataki Ferenc
Provenance and cultural activities
In Hungary, the provision of healthcare and the wide safety net of social benefits improved after 1956. Nevertheless, many symptoms of social deviance (alcoholism, suicide, criminality, sociopathology, drugs) were widespread in the 1980s. In the mid-1980s, the Hungarian suicide rate was the highest in the world. The number of alcoholics had continuously risen, and Hungary was a member of the group of countries where the most alcoholics lived. Beginning in the 1980s, the number of heavy drug users also expanded at a high speed. There were many neurotics and people who suffered from depression. The communist leaders naively thought that the revolutionary changes in property ownership and rising living standards would cure the negative social symptoms (deviance, poverty, etc.). The regime therefore didn’t want to acknowledge the growing rate of various forms of social deviance, so it made them a taboo subject. Social scientists with oppositional groups regularly warned the leaders of the party state of the real problems. The government decided to make analysis of symptoms of deviance a priority research program, to arrive at new social policies, and to abolish the oppositional critics at the end of the 1970s.
In 1979, a research project on “Complex Analysis of Confusion in Social Integration” was launched with considerable financial backing. Ferenc Pataki, sociologist Rudolf Andorka, and psychologist Iván Münnich were the leaders of the project. Many studies and interviews were done as part of the research. This project created opportunities for scholars legally to criticize the socialist system. Members of the research team shed light on social problems and made suggestions to the government concerning possible solutions. Some of these solutions were put into practice. Experimental services were created in the 1980s to provide help for families, and higher education programs were offered for social workers. But on the whole, the research weakened the legitimacy of the communist dictatorship, because it gave rise to a public discourse about existing social deviance and lay bare the ineffectiveness of official social policy.In 2010, Ferenc Pataki donated the texts of 76 interviews which were part of the research on social deviance to the Voices of the Twentieth Century Archive. The interviews thematically reflected his interests, because he dealt with partnerships between individuals and groups, “Me-experience,” questions of identity, and the relationships between individuals and power and personal acts because he was unsatisfied by impersonal statistical methods. The interviews offer an interesting insight into Hungarian social history in the twentieth century and the different historical types of influential characters. The collection is also an excellent source on Hungarian microhistory in the 1980s and many symptoms of social deviancy in the late socialist period.
Description of content
Ferenc Pataki directed the “Complex Analysis of Confusion in Social Integration” research project for almost 10 years. The project dealt with taboo questions. The material in the Voices of the Twentieth Century Archive only has documents from the period between 1986 and 1990 (the dates of creation for some of the materials are not accurate). The 76 texts are based on on very personal oral history interviews done with 36 individuals, some of whom met and spoke with the interviewers repeatedly. Generally, the interviews were done by experienced researchers (their names weren’t always on the documents). The typed texts are between 30 and 150 pages long. The group of people interviewed is a heterogeneous collection of men and women born between 1920 and 1950 with different professions (skilled worker, priest, teacher, chemists, economist, journalist, jurist, salesman, etc.). Generally, the questions concern the social relations of the people interviewed (the histories of their families, socialization, school, participation in youth organizations, their careers, if and when they started families, etc.). The interviewers spoke about their relationships with the authorities (the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, the Young Communist League, the political police, etc.) and about alternative organizations under the dictatorship (religious sects, etc.). The collection (number 409_14.) is accessible and researchable.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Budapest Úri utca 49, Hungary
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Author(s) of this page
- Pál, Zoltán
Kovai Melinda: Pataki Ferenc kutatási gyűjteménye [The Research Collection of Ferenc Pataki]. In: socio.hu, 2016/1. 141-146.
"Csak valódi minőségeket lehet összeadni..." Tibori Tímea beszélgetése Pataki Ferenccel ['Only Real Properties May Added Together...' Timea Tibori's Conversation with Ferenc Pataki]. In: socio.hu, 2016/1. 127-135.
Pataki Ferenc: Töredékes számvetés [Fragmentary Memory]. In: Önarckép háttérrel. Magyar pszichológusok önéletrajzi írásaiból [Self-Portrait with Background. From Autobiographies of Hungarian Psychologists]. Szerkesztette [edited by]: Bodor Péter, Pléh Csaba, Lányi Gusztáv. Budapest, Pólya, 1998. 190-200.
Társadalmi beilleszkedési zavarok Magyarországon I-II. (Helyzetelemzés és javaslatok; Háttéranyagok) [Confusions of Social Integration in Hungary I-II. Analyzation and Suggestions; Background Marerials]. Szerkesztette [edited by]: Andorka Rudolf, Pataki Ferenc. Budapest, Társadalomtudományi Koordinációs Bizottság, 1984.
Pataki, Ferenc, interview by Tibori, Tímea, April 23, 2011. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection