Intellectuals, Inequalities and Transitions

Prospects for a Critical Sociology


Editor: Tamás Demeter
This volume is devoted to the central themes in Iván Szelényi’s sociological oeuvre comprising of empirical explorations and their theoretical refinement in the last 50 years. The contributors have been asked to take interpretive and critical stances on his work, and to clarify the relevance of his insights. Iván Szelényi has been asked to write a concluding chapter, and respond to the present reflections on his work. The ensuing volume discusses Szelényi’s captivating scholarship as being grounded in a complex program for the political economy of socialisms and post-socialist capitalisms, and introduces him as a neoclassical sociologist whose research projects continue to investigate inequalities created by the interaction of markets and redistributive structures in various societies.

Contributors include: Dorothee Bohle, Tamás Demeter, Gil Eyal, Béla Greskovits, Michael D. Kennedy, Tamás Kolosi, Karmo Kroos, Victor Nee, David Ost, Iván Szelényi, and Bruce Western.

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Tamás Demeter is "Lendület" Research Group Leader at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Professor at the Sociology Department of the University of Pécs. He has held various fellowships in Cambridge, MPIWG Berlin, IASH Edinburgh, and NIAS Wassenaar. He has published widely on the sociological tradition of Hungarian philosophy, and on early modern philosophy including its sociological context. He is the author of David Hume and the Culture of Scottish Newtonianism (Brill, 2016), and co-editor of Conflicting Values of Inquiry (Brill, 2015).
“I warmly recommend this volume to the reader. Those interested in Hungarian social science, in the basic features of capitalist and socialist societies and the transitions between them, will find an important source in this collection of papers. Beyond the relevant issues discussed by the contributors, the reader can catch a glimpse of the history of Hungarian social science. The papers reveal Iván Szelényi’s intellectual predecessors and his influence on his contemporaries, disciples and the younger generations of sociologists. Reading Szelényi and reading about Szelényi is always a source of intellectual enjoyment. I have been reading his works for several decades now, and I do not cease to learn and derive inspiration from them – when I agree with him, and even when we disagree here and there. It is due to his sharp formulations and engaging style that he has become a leading authority of Hungarian sociology and political science in particular and social science in general. I do hope this volume will find a wide readership, and that it will serve as course material recommended to sociology students.”

─János Kornai, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Harvard University
List of Figures and Tables
Notes on Contributors

 1 Futures Present: On the Concepts of “Intellectuals” and “Intelligentsia” in Iván Szelényi’s Oeuvre
Gil Eyal

 2 Normative Frames and Systemic Imperatives: Gouldner, Szelényi and New Class Fracture
Michael D. Kennedy

 3 New Class Theory as Sociology of Knowledge
Tamás Demeter

 4 How to become a Dominant or Even Iconic Central and East European Sociologist
Karmo Kroos

 5 Inequality and Transitions: Human Frailty in a Sample of Prisoners
Bruce Western

 6 Neoclassical Sociology Meets Polanyian Political Economy
Dorothee Bohle and Béla Greskovits

 7 Mechanisms of Institutional Change
Victor Nee

 8 Transitions and Structural Distortions
Tamás Kolosi

 9 The Ouvrierist Szelényi and the Missing Sociology of Labor
David Ost

 10 Replies and Comments
Iván Szelényi

All interested in critical social theory, communist and post-communist societies, East Central Europe, social transitions, social inequalities, sociology of knowledge and of intellectuals.