Working Group for Public Sociology “Helyzet”

The Working Group for Public Sociology “Helyzet” was established in 2010 by PhD students and young post-doctoral researchers in order to analyze contemporary Hungarian society from a critical leftist perspective. Its members felt that questions of politics and the economy were treated almost separately  in Hungarian discourses, while there was an increasing need to understand them as interconnected. Members of Helyzet formulated a critical stance towards social, political and economic analysis in contemporary Hungary, stating that it was limited by the master narrative of transition to an idealized Western European modernity, a narrative that transformed local complexities into exoticisms, and viewed local-global relationships through a primitive linear model of development. The working group observes contemporary Hungary as part and parcel of contemporary European and global power relations. The aim of Helyzet is to connect existing knowledge on global and supranational relationships with local knowledge gathered from the broader sphere of sociology.

Helyzet covers a range of activities from the sphere of public sociology. Since 2011, public talks, debates and documentary film screenings were organized. These events provide tools of critical left analysis to students and activists, which are not available or not used in formal education. During the 2012-13 autumn and spring semesters, members of Helyzet  offered three university level courses. In July 2013, the working group organized a summer camp, which was a follow-up to two courses offered in the spring semester (the Economic Anthropology of Post-Socialism, and the Hungarian Popular Movement).

Finally, Helyzet is connected with newer leftist mobilizations in several ways. Members of the working group find their  mission also in providing gathered collective knowledge to political initiatives of similar approach. Helyzet members are typically activists who took part in founding various leftist groups and movement type organizations that gained verve in the last few years. Beyond informal knowledge transfer, from 2013 the working group began to provide targeted lecture-talks for members and groups of social movements.