17 SES 13, Paper Session
The categories existed between 1948 and 1963, to prescribe quotas and improve the data of social inequalities in Hungary. These quotas regulated not only the admission to higher education (Huszár, 2005; Ladányi, 1995; Sáska, 2006; Takács, 2008), but also the schooling of the secondary education: it meant positive discrimination to help the workers’ and farmers’ children at the entrance exams, and negative discrimination to restrict the ‘class-alien’ children’s access to secondary and higher education. The term ’class-alien’ meant students with bourgeois background, who were supposed to be enemies of the communist system. The categories of social origin influenced the evaluation, discipline, scholarships and further education – for example the recommendations, given by the schools. Using categories caused early dropouts, or easier entrance to the secondary and higher education – it depends on the parents’ previous professions. We can say, according to Nigel Swain, that „the cultural monopoly of the former ruling class was to be abolished by the education” (Swain, 1992, p. 62.), with the obligatory quotas, Marxist-Leninist ideology, and Russian language courses, etc. That was the final intention and meaning of this system, which advertised itself as the creator of a new social justice, meanwhile made new inequalities.
The following categories constituted the formal hierarchy of the students:
- Munkás (M) – Worker
- Dolgozó paraszt (Dp) – Working farmer
- Értelmiségi (É) – Intellectual
- Alkalmazott (Alk/A) – Employees in offices, trade, etc.
- Egyéb (E) – Others
- X – Enemies of the communist system (e. g. children of the former aristocrats, householders, police-officers before 1945, etc.)
It was the head teachers’ task to collect the data, fix the categories in the class registers, made proposals for the further education. The categories were made upon the theory of the communist ideology, but in the daily routine a lot of possibilities existed to form and reshape them by the administration to favour some students. The paper’s main goal was to describe the development of the system and contrast it with the reality, analysing local practices of these categories between 1953 and 1962, in a rural secondary and vocational school. The so-called totalitarian theories usually emphasized the conflicts and opponent actors of the dictatorships, the leaders’ repression and resistance of the masses, but the real situations were more complex. Sometimes the representatives of the power (here, the teachers, who made the classification) collaborate with the ‘enemies’ and help them, and vice versa, the subordinated and marginalised student came back to school as a teacher – we will see examples about these, in details.
The concept of the workers’-farmers’ alliance and dominance originated in the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, to transform the education, and furthermore the society (Subramaniam, 2017). The new soviet society had not become a classless and egalitarian one (as the utopia stated), people were divided into different classes, such as workers, peasants, employees, others – the education had to reflect these categories too (Fitzpatrick, 1979). Similar to the Hungarian categories appeared in the state-socialist, communist regimes, like in Romania, where the working class and cooperative peasantry based the foundation of the society, along with other groups of intellectuals, administration and services personnel, etc. (Szabo, 2012, p. 42.) East Germany followed this practice: “the selection of students must, to quote a recent party report (…) favoring children of workers and peasants.” (Hahn, 1973, p. 332.) Evaluation and control in the schools by the categories and classification seemed a unique characteristic of the Hungarian authoritarian systems, from the numerus clausus (1920, see: Karady & Nagy, 2012), which discriminated the Jewish students in the higher education to the communist restrictions.
A new emerging field of the research can be described as the everyday life and experience of communism (i. e. Zakharova, 2013; Todorova, Dimou & Troebst, 2014), in different aspects, one is the schooling. The research based on various sources: documents of the record office in the Secondary High School and Vocational School Tab (registers, reports), instructions and decrees of the Regional (Somogy county) and National Education Governance, oral histories, files of the Township Party Committee, and the regulations of the Central Committee. In the first half of the presentation the legal background will be introduced: four documents were generated in the Ministry, connected this topic, between 1954 and 1957. The developed system was complicated, with a lot of exceptions and modifications, adapting to the actual economical and political needs of the government and local bodies. According to my hypothesis, the apparently objective and precise descriptions about the categories were flexible in the school reality, gave the possibilities to restrict and privilege one student at the same time. A case study demonstrates the practice, in a small town (Tab) and a new secondary school, founded in 1953, that is the starting point. In 1963, the class categories cancelled by the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party (Vass, 1978, pp. 14-18.), that’s reason to choose this year as the final of my analysis – I have to mention here, that the key concept still functioned after this date, without legal and public categories. If we overlook the contemporary statistics (related to schooling and the census), some discrepancies can be discovered, because the school’s social stratification and the town’s data in didn’t fit to each other in this period. Resolving problems like these, lead to understand and interpret the real practice of the class, or social categories. In this work I use the proposals of different Party Committees to support the future students’ entrance; Party directions and decrees; school reports and registers; furthermore two interviews with the ex-pupils. A very confusing landscape can be outlined from the research, with a lot of informal decisions and deals – perhaps that is a specific characteristics of the totalitarian dictatorship in Hungary (from the hard version to soft one, problems of the typology, see Kornai, 2016).
Concluding the findings: individual cases and flexible legal categories typified the long decade of 1950’s (from 1948 to 1962, see: Sáska, 2006), showed the dual (repressive and permissive) nature of the system. Eliminating the categories in 1963 signified a new period, liberalization of the dictatorship, the real Kádár-consolidation (Takács, 2010). This was a pragmatic decision, because until this year multitude of qualified people came out from the secondary and higher education, with workers’ or collective farmers’ background, which extension was one possible reasons of the lowering standards. From the mid 1960’s the professional aspects highlighted again by the decision makers, with the ideological surface to maintain the previous preferences of the working classes, which resulted new problems to the educational policy. Perhaps the most important implication is the continuous elements of the system before and after 1956 – the revolution didn’t break the schooling practices, which subordinate students and parents, and made them depend on the local bodies of the government and the Party. Michel Foucault describes a strange taxonomy, evoking Borges (Foucault, 2005, pp. xvi-xx.), to represent a social reality to the members of the community. With the social categories the imaginary constructions came into the reality and functioned; teachers, parents and students began to look their selves in the light of these aspects, as Workers, Working farmers, Intellectuals, Employees, Others or just an X. These symbolic universes (to the idea: Berger & Luckmann, 1966) influenced the school rating, career-opportunities, the lives after the compulsory education, so they could be harsh (or, in other cases: soft) entities in the real world. This study fits into the new trends of the cultural history in the education sciences (e. g. Popkewitz, Franklin & Pereyra, 2001); and the reality of schooling (Depaepe, 2000).
The presentation is supported by the ÚNKP-17-4 New National Excellence Program of the Ministry of Human Capacities. Berger, Peter L. & Luckmann, Thomas (1966): The Social Construction of Reality. Penguin Books, New York. Depaepe, Marc (2000, ed.): Order in Progress. Leuven University Press, Leuven. Fitzpatrick, Sheila (1979): Education and Social Mobility in the Soviet Union 1921-1934. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Foucault, Michel (2005): The Order of Things. An archeology of the human sciences. Routledge, London – New York. Hahn, Walter (1973): Teachers Under Communism – The Case of East Germany. Educational Leadership, Vol. 30. No. 1. 331-335. Huszár, Tibor (2005): Az elittől a nomenklatúráig. Az intézményesített káderpolitika kialakulása és néhány jellemzője Magyarországon, 1945–1989 (From Elite to Nomenclature. The Formation of the Institutionalized Politics of Cadres in Hungary, 1945-1989). Szociológiai Szemle, 3. 8–69. Karady, Victor & Nagy, Péter Tibor (2012, eds.): The numerus clausus in Hungary. Centre for Historical Research, History Department of the Central European University, Budapest. Kornai, János (2016): The System Paradigm Revisited. Clarification and Additions in the Light of Experiences in the Post-Socialist Region. Acta Oeconomica, Vol. 66. No. 4. 547-596. Ladányi, Andor (1995): A felsőoktatási felvételi rendszer történeti alakulása (Historical Development of the Entrance System into the Higher Education). Educatio, Vol. 14. No. 3. 485–500. Popkewitz, Thomas S., Franklin, Barry M. & Pereyra, Miguel A. (2001, ed.): Cultural History and Education. Routledge, Abingdon – New York. Sáska, Géza (2006): A társadalmi egyenlőség megteremtésének kísérlete az ötvenes évek felsőoktatásában (Experiment to Create the Social Equality in 1950’s Higher Education). Educatio, Vol. 15. No. 3. 593–608. Subramaniam, C. N. (2017): The October Revolution and Educational Transformation. Revolutionary Democracy, Vol. 23. No. 1. http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv23n1/education.htm (24 January, 2018) Swain, Nigel (1992): Hungary: The Rise and Fall of Feasible Socialism. Verso, London – New York. Szabo, Veronica (2012): Youth and Politics in Communist Romania (1980-1989). Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh. Takács, Ádám (2010): Totalitarianism as an Atmosphere. Divinatio, Vol. 31, Spring – Summer, 113-123. Takács, Róbert (2008): A származási megkülönböztetés megszüntetése (Elimination of the Social Categorisation). Napvilág Kiadó, Budapest. Todorova, Maria, Dimou, Augusta & Troebst, Stefan (2014): Remembering Communism: Private and Public Recollections of Lived Experience in Southeast Europe. CEU Press, Budapest – New York. Vass, Henrik (1978): Az MSZMP határozatai és dokumentumai, 1963-1966 (Documents and Decrees of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, 1963-1966). Kossuth, Budapest. Zakharova, Larissa (2013): Everyday Life Under Communism: Practices and Objects. Annales HSS, Vol. 68. No. 2. 209-217.
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