Sociological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Records
Sociology, along with other social sciences, was under a strong political pressure in the socialist era. After the foundation of the Sociological Research Group (1963), sociologists tried to make room for more autonomous academic activities. “Critical sociology” formed in part because many sociologists refused to legitimize the communist regime through their work. This collection gives insights into this controversial dynamic, i.e. the struggle between scholars on the one hand and political institutions on the other.
Budapest Széchenyi István tér 9, Hungary 1051
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Name of collection
- Sociological Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Provenance and cultural activities
Between 1948 and 1963, sociology as an independent academic discipline disappeared in Hungary, and before 1956, it had been banned as a “bourgeois pseudo-science.” In March 1963, the Sociological Research Group (which in 1971 was rechristened the Sociological Institute) was set up within the framework of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. This Group was led by András Hegedűs, who had been prime minister in 1955–1956, but who, after the Hungarian Revolution, underwent an intellectual metamorphosis and became a full-time academic. The projects in the Research Group (analyses of social stratification, the problems of bureaucracy, alienation under socialism, etc.) threatened to make visible some of the contradictions of the Hungarian regime. The sociological orientation was seen as a way to revisit the Marxist-Leninist ideological categories. Hegedűs and other members of the Sociology Research Group (Mária Márkus, Ágnes Heller) protested against the invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, so Hegedűs was dismissed from his post as head of the Group, and in 1973, he was expelled from the Hungarian Socialist Worker’s Party. The other founder of this “critical sociology” was István Kemény, who between 1969 and 1972 studied the poor, workers, members of the Roma communities, and the management practices on state farms. Kemény lost his job in 1971, but he organized seminars in private places. The “Kemény school” was formed. Even after Kemény’s emigration in 1977, this group continued to play an important role in the birth of the democratic opposition. Iván Szelényi, another member of the Sociological Institute, was throwing into question the notion of the leading role of the working class under socialistm, so he lost his jobs, and in May 1975, he left Hungary. These occurrences were part of an ideological campaign launched by conservative party leaders in 1973 against “revisionist” sociologists and philosophers.After this conservative turn, the Sociological Institute of the Academy lost his leading role in Hungarian sociological life. Kálmán Kulcsár, the new director, announced the advent of “de-politized,” “professional’ sociology in contrast with “critical sociology.” This new profile of the discipline adopted a less confrontational approach in the research of several sociologists (Zsuzsa Ferge, Ágnes Losonczi, etc.). Other scholars found their place in empirical-statistical studies (László Cseh-Szombathy, etc.). Until the end of the dictatorship, theoretical inquiry stagnated because of this crisis of sociology.
The Archive of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences received the Sociological Research Institute’s documents in 1986. At the time, the takeover of the documents became possible: the archive got a warehouse at Törökbálint, where there was a more spacious place for the material, and at the time, the archive could only employ on staff member, who reviewed and obtained the documents in the academic institutions. The collection was settled in the VIII. fonds (“Academic Institutes”) and in unit 223. Work on organizing and arranging the collection is still underway, but the documents are available in the Archive during official hours.
Description of content
The documents of the Sociology Research Institute of the Academy are stored in 52 boxes. The correspondence of the 1964–1975 period is in 31 boxes. Box number 33 contains a letter written by Iván Szelényi. Boxes numbers 35 and 36. include letters by director Kálmán Kulcsár. Three boxes contain the registry and index-books. The documents of the presidency conclaves are stored in four boxes (1979–1984). The writings of the so-called Coordination Committee of Social Sciences (1975–1982) are stored in seven boxes They include the deposited material of the United Nations (1975–1978). The sources of the UNESCO General Assembly from 1972 and 1974 are stored in two boxes. Other boxes contain research plans, referrals, conference papers, journey reports, etc. Box number 31 contains documents about the beginning of periodical Sociology (1971). There are writings about the Institute’s foreign affairs. Researchers will find research materials, studies, professional opinions and hand-written documents. Box number 38 includes the documentation of the writings of sociologist Ferenc Erdei, former academic first secretary (1957–1971). Box number 39 contains an analysis entitled “The Status of Sociology in Hungary.”
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 1000-
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 500-999
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Budapest Széchenyi István tér 9, Hungary
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Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Pál, Zoltán
Szántó Miklós: A magyar szociológia ujjászervezése a hatvanas években. [The Reorganization of Hungarian Sociology in the 1960s] Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1998.
Háy Diana: Akadémiai levéltár (MTA levéltára). [The Academic Archives/The Archives of MTA]. In: Magyarországi levéltárak. [The National Archives of Hungary] Felelős szerkesztő [managing editor]: Bana József. Magyar Levéltárosok Egyesülete, Budapest, 2004. 136-137.
Csizmadia Ervin: A magyar demokratikus ellenzék (1968-1988.) I. Monográfia [The Hungarian Democratic Opposition, 1968-1988. I. Monograph] T-Twins Kiadó, Budapest, 1995.
Hay, Diana, interview by Pál, Zoltán, May 04, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection