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Arien Mack, Editor

This is the first of a series of special issues devoted to Central and Eastern European social science and social theory. This new project echoes the early history of Social Research, which was begun in 1934 by the small group of émigré European scholars who founded the University in Exile at the New School for Social Research.

Two years ago, a small committee of scholars and writers, chaired by Ralf Dahrendorf, joined together in an initiative which came to be known as the Central and East European Publishing Project “-Imprimatur.”

This article searches for evidence of alternative structures to capitalist or socialist socio economic and political institutions in postwar Hungary. The question of how complex modern societies can exist and survive as integrated entities is as interesting and puzzling as the question of how well-integrated societies may be threatened and, ultimately, rent apart by disruptive forces. Dozens of integrative and disintegrative factors have been listed and analyzed by social and political scientists.

What is democracy? A small group of people in Hungary contends that it is tantamount to the active role of citizens in political life. Another equally small group reckons that democracy is identical with a state of affairs in which politics plays no role in one’s life (i.e. it merely “lets them live”). Finally, the majority view is that democracy simply means that the interests of the populace are represented in politics. In all, the article demonstrates the changing paradigm of government-citizen relations in Hungary and analyzes results of a survey assessing the political orientation of Hungarians.

The sociopolitical consequences of the expanding sphere of private economic activities during the seventies have been widely analyzed. Both within and outside Hungary experts and ideologues alike began to define the “Hungarian model” as a way to solve some basic problems of state-socialist systems. There is a general agreement among observers of the East European scene that Hungarian political stability has its roots in the atomized, individualistic way economic strategies are organized.

Studies the effects of 1980s economic changes in Poland on large and small social groups' political interests, distinguishing between conscious and subconscious factors in decisionmaking. Results of sociological research usually focus on descriptions of social consciousness. In the present paper I would like to depart from that pattern and deal with what we might call the shape of Polish society’s subconsciousness.

Political and social events in Poland during the 1970s and 1980s increased the utility of using economic (class) interests as a tool for analyzing Polish society. Discussions about the future of the Polish economy which took place in the early 1980s have lost none of their immediate interest. A period of hope connected with the implementation of the economic reform was followed by a period of doubt in its success.

This paper is conceived as a contribution to the analysis of the relationship among various aspects of the individual’s adaptation to the social system: values, perceptions, and the popular explanations of the state of reality, attitudes toward the system, and declared behavioral strategies. The paper drafts a general model of the individual’s adaptation to the social system and to apply it to the analysis of the basic data obtained in an empirical survey on the Polish workers conducted in 1984.

The question of what keeps East European societies stable is answered in a similar manner as the question concerning the sources of cohesion of societies in general: the rationalist quoted by Dahrendorf points out the role of constraint while the utopian insists on the importance of social consensus.

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