The new business chamber in Hungary: A comparative historical study of a compulsory civic organization
This thesis shows how the public law (compulsory) chamber has been adopted in post-communist Hungary bearing many of the marks of a former socialist regulatory bureaucracy, while claiming democratic content, and cultural and historical continuity. Although centralized public law organizations are common in nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, their adoption and impact on democratization and marketization in a post-communist society is the special concern of this dissertation.
A guild typology is proposed which allows for an historical structural comparison of the new Hungarian business chamber to other civic organizations such as early western European craft guilds, post-war German chambers, American and Soviet trade unions, American and British chambers of commerce, and earlier Hungarian guilds, chambers, and socialist organizations. It is observed that compulsory organizations have consistently been established where a lack or suppression of a civil society exists; where conditions of limited market development pertain; and where there is an absence of strong traditions and institutions securing individual rights.
Utilizing historical materials, legal founding documents, and 1996 interview data on chamber members, business leaders, and officials in Pecs, Hungary, the thesis highlights a socio-political tradeoff between elite and nationalist development goals, and local socio-political processes. Although a centralized chamber system may apply limited resources more efficiently (for example attracting and channelling foreign investments) than private chamber systems, the price of compulsory public law chambers in a disorganized and atomized post-communist society may well be the failure (or postponement) of the emergence of voluntary civic organizations. The persistence of centralized regulatory bureaucracies will primarily benefit an entrenched elite in the political and economic fields for the foreseeable future.
0335: European history