Civil Society at the Grass-roots: A Reactionary View

  • Chris Hann


The perspective of a social anthropologist on the large issues addressed in this volume is very different from that of the other contributors. In this chapter I am concerned with the adequacy of concepts such as democratisation and civil society for an understanding of contemporary social transformations in Eastern Europe. Focusing upon a Hungarian community which I have known over the last 15 years, I shall argue that more attention should be paid to the needs and anxieties of citizens as they themselves express them in the context of their experiences under socialism. It seems to me that the discourse of civil society, particularly when linked to an extreme model of market economy, is an ideological product alien to most citizens. Many villagers regret the passing of an age when dogma and ideology were less obtrusive in their community and posed less of a threat to their welfare.


Civil Society Village Doctor Socialist Organisation Collective Farm Socialist Period 
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Copyright information

© International Council for Soviet and East European Studies, and Paul G. Lewis 1992

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  • Chris Hann

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