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János Zolnay

Civitias Europica Centralis Foundation Budapest
Towards a „caste-like” society. Trends and
impact of exclusionary social policy of the
“illiberal” state in Hungary
L o c a l st u d y i n a s m a l l r e g i o n i n Ea ste r n
Hungary
Fall of the constitutional state
Assumptions
➢ The significant exclusionary change in public sentiment
and political orientation played a decisive role in the
failure of the republic and constitutional state and
establishing an authoritarian system in the country
after 2010
➢ Not only profound economic and technological
changes, thus the devaluation of formerly marketable
professions and skill can depress and push into many
families to underclass situation, but drastic
exclusionary turnabout in social and educational policy
as well.
Challenges of transition
Challenges
➢ Dramatic decline of employment rate
➢ Dramatic decline of employment rate of unskilled (ISCED2)
Two basic dilemmas
➢ By what means and methods can participation in social division of
labour as a social integration scheme be replaced at least provisionally
until the rate raises to an acceptable level due to expected economic
growth.
➢ By what kind of education system had to be implemented so that to
achieve the fast improvement of would be employees’ skills and
qualifications after many decades of under-education forced by the
state socialist (communist) regime and the former state owned
enterprises, cool mines, agricultural cooperatives that had unlimited
request for unskilled workers.
Welfare consensus – inactive statuses
Retirement of active aged unemployed
➢ The number of active age pensioner doubled
between 1990 and the turn of the millennium then
slowly started to reduce. In 1993 not less than one
third 40-49 old Roma men were pensioners and in
ten years, that astonishing number only sank to 27
percent
Income-like family allowance benefit systems
Welfare consensus – expansive public
education
➢ Public education was based on a free curriculum, output
regulation, normative funding, a diversified school system and
free school choice
➢ Compulsory school attendance age was raised to 18 years
➢ Municipal councils that maintained schools had a vested
interest in maximizing the number of secondary school
students and, as a consequence, the enrolment ratio in
secondary grammar and secondary vocational schools
increased significantly
➢ The massive expansion of secondary education greatly
improved the chances of disadvantaged and Roma pupils in
further education.
Poverty alleviation or preventing
underclass
Assumption: we cannot talk about massive underclass situation
➢ if pension scheme, the family allowance provision and the social
benefits reach the poor no matter how unequal is their
distribution
➢ if the very corrupt health supply – even with devastated
infrastructure – doesn’t deny anyone’s care
➢ if the compulsory school attendance age is 18 years
➢ if the selectivity of public education doesn’t reach the extent
that systematically reduces the chances of the most unprivileged
pupils to continue their education in secondary level

Up till 2010 basically and generally this was the case even
though sporadically there were underclass communities
Overturning the welfare consensus
➢ The consensus was based on a kind of identity of
interest emerged between the losing and winning
groups of redistribution and provision systems,
and services
➢ The overturning of the consensus may be seen
also as the wining groups having walked out of
the tacit deal, and made it clear that they no
longer want to use common institutions,
common social spaces, and common services
with most destitute groups especially with the
Roma.
Exclusionary turnabout in social
policy
➢ Flat tax
➢ Drastic cutting of unemployment benefit
➢ Stigmatizing welfare clients
➢ Mass and de facto compulsory public work
➢ „Work test”
➢ Replacement of public employees with public workers
➢ Preventing real, assumed or generated interethnic tensions
➢ Statistically „improving” employment rate
➢ Providing local municipal governments with an instrument
whereby they can “force into compliance” the local destitute ,
and thus apparently maintain social peace
➢ Legitimising the ideology of the “work based society”
Drastic exclusionary change in
educational policy
➢The state became the maintainer of primary,
secondary and vocational schools
➢The curriculum is controlled by the
government
➢The normative financing system were ceased
➢Government again determines the required
number of secondary and vocational schooling
➢The compulsory school attendance age were
reduced from 18 to 16 years
Foreseeable consequences of drastic
exclusionary change in educational policy
➢The secondary school frame is intended to be
reduced by 30-35 percent
➢At least 150 thousand pupils are to be crowd
out from secondary schools
➢Total elimination of Roma pupils chance to be
enrolled to secondary schools
➢The government is explicitly in favour of
further strengthening ethnic based
segregation
Researching the local region…
in Eastern Hungary
➢ With 66 thousand inhabitants living in 23 villages
and 3 small towns
➢ With the proportion of 22 percent of Roma
population
➢ With 5700 primary school students
➢45 percent of primary school students are Roma
including church maintained school
➢56 percent of primary school pupils are Roma in state
maintained schools
The main question…
➢whether the forms and samples of local
practice of public employment and the
selection and segregation trends in
primary schools (and even in pre-
schools); can be perceived and defined as
pathway to underclass
Underclass or „caste like” society

➢ Due to the exclusionary social policy the society tends to be
divided along new cleavages separating those who have
opportunity to acquire skills adequate to requirement of
primary labour market; who can avoid paternalistic
dependency and vulnerability to local authorities and those
who are remained excluded.
➢ But however in the aftermath of the fall of inclusive social
policy, situation of destitute is cannot be described as
massive underclass but formation of “caste like” society
instead. The key element of differentiation is definitely the
compulsory and massive public employment system that
offers very low quality “secure standard of living”. But such
“secure standard of living also contributes the social
exclusion of long term unemployed due to extreme level of
personal dependency and vulnerability
Paternalistic dependency and
protection of the unskilled
➢ Public workers are completely deprived from legal protection
➢ In case they are excluded by the mayors from public work
they also lose their minimum amount of aid for two years
➢ The mayors make it clear to every public worker that their job
is in fact superfluous, and she/he is unnecessary to be
employed and has to be grateful for temporarily being
transferred from a subsidized status to public-employment
status.
➢ Public workers are at mercy of the local municipal council to
such degree that in some cases mayor forces them to enrol
their children to segregated kindergartens or primary schools
maintained by churches instead of public ones that would be
obliged to admit them without any consideration.
Alternative breed winning strategies
of the unskilled
➢All other breed winning income-generating
strategies must fit into the public employment
system.
➢Casual works at the most might supplement
wages
➢The other income generating strategies are
uncertain, semi legal or are hardly criminal
and embedded in cruel exploitation systems.
Chances of escape from paternalistic
dependency
Only permanent job (in Hungary or elsewhere in the
EU) in the real labour market provides opportunity to
escape from paternalistic dependency. But however
this can only be achieved if
➢ one has matriculation or
➢ a marketable qualification with job experience and
➢ minimum level language skill

The drastic exclusionary turnabout in educational policy
prevents exactly this from hundreds of thousands who
are excluded from the opportunity to be enrolled in
secondary schools.
Limitation of state maintained primary
schools’ selection
➢Statutory compulsion to enrol pupils living in
their catchment area
➢Multiply disadvantaged pupils „commuting”
from other catchment area have to given
preferences in enrolment
High communing rate of primary school
students and its importance

➢ Primary school pupils commuting rate is so high that can
neutralize the previously assumed impact of residential
segregation on the level of school segregation
➢ Prestigious schools are attended by overall more students
than those living in their catchment area but fewer multiply
disadvantaged and Roma students compared to the
number of them living in their catchment area. The
student’s commuting balance sheet is positive in total, but
in case of multiply disadvantaged and Roma students the
rate is negative
Schools and maintenance can directly
circumvent their legal obligations by:
➢ Streaming and setting: launching billingual classes or
faculties so that to enlarge or quit catchment area
➢ Streaming and setting: Launching special programmes
so that to make legal ground for selection
➢ Making legal ground for selection by designating them
as schools for ethnic and national minorities
➢ Maintaining segregated schools for long term by
designating them as schools for ethnic and national
minorities
Schools and maintenance can indirectly
circumvent their legal obligations by:

• Handing over the maintenance of prestigeous
schools to churches
• „Outsourcing” segregation by handing over
the maintenance of segregated schools to
churches
The spiral of social exclusion
In the small region there are
➢ Three rural attractive cream skimming schools
and as a consequence of the white flight
➢ Eleven totally segregated and three mildly segregated vacuum schools
➢ The most prestigious school in a small town had designated itself as a
school with special programme for German national minority so that
to get rid of its obligation to enrol Roma students living in its
catchment area (In that town has never lived Germans)
➢ Two totally segregated rural schools had been designated as schools
with special programmes for Roma ethnic minority so that to avoid
closure because mayors were personally interested in their further
operation (In these two villages just Hungarian speaking Roma families
are living unlike the neighbouring villages where native Romani
speakers are living among others
The spiral of social exclusion
1) Case
The maintenance of a prestigious school were taken over
by Roman Catholic Church together with teachers and
students. The religious character is just formal. The school
started to gradually displace its Roma students and
refused to enrol Roma children to its first grade
➢ As a response to that „challenge”: The state maintained school
launched bilingual programme so that to keep its prestige and
attractiveness among middle class parents. (Setting) The
catchment area of the bilingual programme was enlarged to the
whole small region – in practise the school can admit and enrol
whoever it wishes. Moreover, the segregation among paralel
classes is extremely high (Streaming)
The spiral of social exclusion
➢c) As a response to the „challenge” of bilingual class
teachers of the Catholic school launched pre-selective
„dwarf” German language session at kindergartens still
maintained by the local municipality. Only well informed
parents are aware that participation is the informal
precondition of their children’s admittance to Catholic
school. Roma parents are dissuaded from „dwarf” German
language sessions
➢d) As a response to that „challenge” of pre selective strategy
of the Catholic school, state maintained school launched
pre-selective „dwarf” English language session at
kindergartens Only well informed parents are aware that
participation is the informal precondition of their children’s
admittance to bilingual programme. Roma parents are
dissuaded from „dwarf” English language sessions
The spiral of social exclusion
As a consequence of the process there are five level selection techniques in
the town
➢ “Dwarf” English session at kindergartens. Teacher involved in “dwarf”
English session at kindergarten and well informed parent are aware that
would be pupils enrolling to bilingual faculty will have to know a few
words in English.
➢ Catchment area of the bilingual branch of the school is the whole small
region (not only the city but the small region as a whole!) therefore the
admission selection is unlimited. The school can admit and reject whoever
it wants. The general faculty of the school however has a demarcated
catchment zone in the city.
➢ German language is taught in the general faculty of the school. German
language is obviously very important, but however, in all cases when
German is taught instead of much more popular English, pupils feel
deprived and they are under-motivated to learn it. German course
becomes an alibi or quasi language teaching as Russian course used to be
in socialist/communist area.
➢ Extremely high level of inner segregation can be observed among classes.
The spiral of social exclusion
2) Case
Ten years ago he mayor of a small town
instructed the school principal to eliminate
segregation among parallel classes (Streaming)
➢b) As a response to that „challenge” many influential
middle class parents (after the exclusionary
turnabout, with the support of the minister who is
originally a Calvinist pastor) „outsourced” their elite
cream skimming school to the neighbouring small
village which doesn't have Roma population.
The spiral of social exclusion
➢c) As a response to that „challenge” the rest of
influential middle class parents started to demand
that Calvinist church should establish and build up
religious school in upward system In four years the
middle class parents successfully demanded to
launch the upper grade (5th 6th 7th 8th classes) at
the same time.
The spiral of social exclusion
As a consequence of the process
➢The completion of religious school resulted in
total separation Roma and non Roma students
in the small town
Distribution of all non Roma and Roma
students living in the small region (%)
Distribution of all non Distribution of all Roma
Roma students living students living in the small
Primary schools in the small region region
Church maintained
religious schools 37,9 2,0
Attractive cream simming
schools at small towns 18,3 9,9
Rural attractive cream
skimming school 19,1 3,6
Mildly segregated
schools 9,9 13,2
Segregated schools 11,8 66,0
Distribution of all non Roma and Roma students among
primary schools ranking primary schools based of their pupils
achievement measured annually by the government) %

Distribution of all non Distribution of all Roma
Roma students living students living in the small
Primary schools in the small region region

1 (the best) 53,2 11,4
2 27,6 12,5
3 7,7 10,4
4 8,6 29,6
5 (the worst) 3,0 36,1
The distribution of non Roma and Roma
students in classes in which the proportion of
Roma pupils is... (%)
0-25 25-50 51-75 76-99 100
0% % % % % %
Non Roma students
28,5 36,5 19,0 11,1 4,9
Roma students
5,8 14,8 23,7 35,9 19,8
Conclusions - underclass or „caste
like” society
➢ Due to the exclusionary social policy the society tends to be
divided along new cleavages separating those who have
opportunity to acquire skills adequate to requirement of
primary labour market; who can avoid paternalistic
dependency and vulnerability to local authorities and those
who are remained excluded.
➢ But however in the aftermath of the fall of inclusive social
policy, situation of destitute is cannot be described as
massive underclass but formation of “caste like” society
instead. The key element of differentiation is definitely the
compulsory and massive public employment system that
offers very low quality “secure standard of living”. But such
“secure standard of living also contributes the social
exclusion of long term unemployed due to extreme level of
personal dependency and vulnerability
Thank You for your attention
János Zolnay
Civitas Europica Centralis Foundation
jzolnay@gmail.com
w.w.w.cecid.net