Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Professor György Majtényi

Fellow György Majtényi

March - August 2017

György Majtényi was 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.



György Majtényi, A tudomány lajtorjája: "Társadalmi mobilitás" és "új értelmiség" Magyarországon a II. világháború után [Science's Ladder: "Social mobility" and "New Intelligentsia" in post-1945 Hungary], Budapest: Magyar Országos Levéltár - Gondolat iadó, 2005.

György Majtényi, K-vonal: Uralmi elit és luxus a szocializmusban [Cadre-line: The Dominant Elite and Luxury during State Socialism], Budapest: Nyitott Könyvműhely, 2009.

György Majtényi, Vezércsel: Kádár János mindennapjai [Queen's Gambit: The everyday life of János Kádár], Budapest: Libri Kiadó - Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár, 2012.

Balázs Majtényi and György Majtényi, Cigánykérdés Magyarországon, 1945-2010 [The Roma Question in Hungary, 1945-2010], Budapest: Libri Kiadó, 2012.

Balázs Majtényi and György Majtényi, A Contemporary History of Exclusion: The Roma Issue in Hungary from 1945 to 2015, New York/Budapest: CEU Press, 2016.

Edited volumes

György Majtényi and Orsolya Ring, eds., Közel-múlt: Húsz történet a 20. századból. [The Recent Past: Twenty Stories from the 20th Century], Budapest: Magyar Országos Levéltár, 2002.

György Majtényi and Csaba Szabó, eds., Távolodás és közelítések: Rendszerváltás és Kádár-korszak. [Departures and Advances: The Regime Change and the Kádár-era],Budapest:Állambiztonsági Szolgálatok Történeti Levéltára – Kossuth Kiadó, 2008.

György Majtényi and Zoltán Szatucsek, eds., A szabó tűje és a cipész dikicse: Dokumentumok a kisipar és kiskereskedelem államosításának történetéből. [The Tailor’s Needle and the Shoemaker’s Knife: Documents on the History of the Nationalization of Small-scale Industry and Small Trade]Budapest: Magyar Országos Levéltár, 2001.

György Majtényi, Zsuzsanna Mikó and Csaba Szabó, eds., Forradalom! 24 megtalált történet [Revolution! - Invented Histories], Budapest: Libri Kiadó, 2016.

György Majtényi and Csaba Szabó, eds., Margó naplója - 1956-1959: A forradalom és utóélete egy kamaszlány szemével [The Diary of Margo, 1956-1959], Budapest: Libri Kiadó, 2016.


György Majtényi, Die Deutung der Macht und die Macht der Deutung. Zur Terminologie der ungarischen Sozialgeschichte nach 1945. Kakanien Revisited. Plattform für interdisziplinäre Forschung im Bereich Mittel-Ost- bzw. Zentraleuropa und Südosteuropa. 2009.

György Majtényi, Torwächter. Die Herrschaftselite in Ungarn in den 1950er und 1960er Jahren, Kakanien revisited. Plattform für interdisziplinäre Forschung im Bereich Mittel-Ost- bzw. Zentraleuropa und Südosteuropa. 2008.

György Majtényi, Transition and Democratization: The History, Context, and Interpretation of the Constitutional Revolution of 1989 in Hungary,in Political Science: An Overview of the Fields, edited by James W. Peterson, Lee M. Allen, Nolan J. Argyle and Mihály Mózes, Dubuque: KendallHunt, 2012, pp. 185–94.

György Majtényi, What Made the Kádár Era?, The Hungarian Historical Review 3 (2013): pp. 667–75.

György Majtényi, Texts, Structures and Experiences, Online Journal of the Institute for Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy special issue in English, no. 2 (2014): pp. 96–117.

György Majtényi, Between Tradition and Change: Hunting as Metaphor and Symbol in State Socialist Hungary, Cultural and Social History. The Journal of the Social History Society, (2016): DOI: 10.1080/14780038.2016.1166409 pp. 1–19.

György Majtényi, Football et pouvoir dans la Hongrie communiste, in Le football des nations : Des terrains de jeu aux communautés imaginées, edited by Fabien Archambault, Stéphane Beaud, William Gasparini, preface: Gérard Noiriel, Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2016.

A full list of publications can be found at: