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Home > Catalogue > The Political Economy of State-Society Relations in Hungary and Poland
The Political Economy of State-Society Relations in Hungary and Poland
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  • 12 tables
  • Page extent: 294 pages
  • Size: 234 x 156 mm
  • Weight: 0.56 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 306.2/09438/09045
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: HN420.5.A8 S45 2006
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Social change--Hungary
    • Social change--Poland
    • Post-communism--Hungary
    • Post-communism--Poland
    • Hungary--Economic policy--1968-1989

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521835640 | ISBN-10: 052183564X)

DOI: 10.2277/052183564X

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The profound transformations that preceded the downfall of Communism originated in Poland and Hungary, but played out in strikingly different ways. Hungary led through economic reform, Poland through open political struggle. Analysis of these transformational variants yields important insights into systemic change, marketization, and democratization. This book shows how these changes were possible in authoritarian regimes as, over time, state and society became mutually vulnerable, neither fully able to dictate the terms of engagement. For Poland this meant principled confrontation; for Hungary, innovative accommodation. This book argues that different conceptual frameworks and strategies of persuasion account for these divergences in virtually identical institutional settings. Seleny traces the different political-institutional residues which, in both Hungary and Poland, now function as constraining or enabling legacies. In particular, she demonstrates that state socialist legacies account for salient differences between these two new capitalist democracies, and now condition their prospects in the European Union.

• Advances a state-society relations framework for the analysis of change within authoritarian systems and transitions to democracy • An exemplar of the comparative case study method • Includes engaging interviews with private entrepreneurs who emerged in socialist Hungary and with former high level government officials


1. History and theory in practice; 2. Precocious reformer: Hungary; 3. Injustice: Poland 1948–1980; 4. Poland: from solidarity to 1989; 5. Hungary: property relations recast; 6. Schumpeter by the Danube: from second economy to private sector; 7. Action and reaction: institutional consequences of private sector expansion.


'This is one of the best studies on the political economy of Eastern Europe published in the past decade. Seleny's work is rich in fresh insights and innovative approaches and yields a more complete understanding of policy-making and economic policies in socialist Hungary and Poland. Her focus on the political and economic significance of the second economy and its intricate relationship to state bureaucracies is particularly original. Seleny's analysis of the centrally planned economic system's lasting effects on these two new democracies and market economies.' Zoltan Barany, University of Texas

'This meticulous study conveys original and profound lessons about how states and societies become vulnerable and then change. Blending historical sweep with deep local knowledge, this book conveys the drama of the economic and political transformation in Eastern Europe in a gripping way. Seleny is masterful in showing us how much we can learn from comparative case studies.' Nancy Bermeo, Princeton University

'This is an excellent, in-depth study that explains in detail how both pre- and post- 89 history and institutions have impacted the EU accession process in Hungary and in Poland. Anna Seleny's contribution is based on research that is methodologically sound, substantively rich, and extremely well-documented. I expect the book to contribute to the important debates taking place in the social sciences about systemic transformation. The book should be of interest to a broad, interdisciplinary audience beyond political science, since it links political, economic and cultural developments.' János Kornai, Collegium Budapest

'[T]he main thrust of this valuable study adds considerably to an understanding of what, in the biography of Hungarian and Polish socialism, accounts for the strikingly different way state and society met, tangled, and evolved in the two countries, and with what implications for the new era.' Foreign Affairs

' … Seleny's book has much to offer, particularly on the evolution of the Hungarian economic, political and economic system.' Slavonic and East European Review

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