Social transformation and changes in daily life in Hungary, during the period of the change of system

Tibor Valuch

The second half of the 20th century saw fundamental alterations in Hungary’s social, economic and political relations in 1945, in 1948–9 and again in 1989–90. After the end of World War II, it seemed for a while as if a democratic political system could emerge, while market forces remained and social inequalities were moderated. That process of partial embourgeoisement and reinforcement of democratic transformation was interrupted in 1948–9, when the communists took power. Private ownership gave way to state ownership and the market to a strongly centralized planned economy. Apart from a  brief, heroic, failed experiment in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, only the 1989–90  collapse of communism and change of system brought an end to dictatorship, reinstatement of a democratic political system, and reorganization of a market economy, with decisive consequences in the structure of Hungarian society and in daily life. This involved highly complicated processes, although the scope of this lecture precludes me from examining or analysing all the important problems. Essentially, therefore, this contribution seeks to answer two basic questions. What social consequences did the change of system bring? What effect did these changes have on daily life?