Professor György Majtényi

Curriculum Vitae

György Majtényi will be a fellow at the Imre Kertész Kolleg in Jena from March until August 2017. He is a social historian and professor at Károly Eszterházy University. Between 2000 and 2011, he was department head of the National Archives of Hungary. In 2010, he acquired his post-doctoral professorial qualification (Habilitation). He received his D.Phil. in 2004 from the Eötvös Lóránd University with a thesis on social mobility in post-1945 Hungary. His recent research interests include history of the dominant elite in Hungary during state socialism, intellectual history and Roma social history.


Research project at the Kolleg

In Hungary, the thesis of modernisation was formulated in the 1980s, partly under the influence of politics and partly under the influence of international pressure. In emphasising the modernising function of the state, sociologists obviously wished to have an influence on politics, but they also simultaneously created a legitimate basis for reforms to be carried out by the system. In terms of its genealogy – rather than validity – the thesis on modernisation did not take certain aspects of the society of the age into account. Those living on the periphery of society, victims of discrimination and the underdogs of the transformation – in other words, those who experienced the de facto shrillness of state socialism – were neglected in the concept of modernisation. Historians have had to respond to the question of what relation can be found between the conceptual language of social science and phenomena experienced in the contemporary world, and have reconsidered this terminology (concepts and interpretations). My research, which makes use of methods of critical discourse analysis, is part of this endeavour. Its purpose is to provide an overview of how our knowledge of socialist state modernisation has been constructed, and to seek out ways in which this knowledge may be revisited.

Main areas of research

  • Everyday life in post-1945 Hungary
  • Social and cultural history of elites in post-1945 Hungary
  • History of Hungarian sociology, history of concepts, intellectual history
  • Roma social history
  • The social history of football

Positions and memberships

  • Member of the Hungarian Social History Society.