HUNGARIAN SOCIETY IN TRANSITION:IS THERE A ROLE FOR ATHLETES IN SOCIAL CHANGE? March 29-30, 2013. Louisville, KY Muhammad Ali Center Emese Ivan PhD St John’s University
An Overview• What are the specific characteristics of East European capitalism – after 20 years?• What are the society’s expectations of sport as per now?• What are sports’ expectations of the society in the 21st century?• How does the Hungarian case fit into the broader theoretical concepts on social capital?• Is there a role for athletes in social change – in Hungary?• Conclusion and some hope for the future….
An Introduction……"The fact that sport, after the introduction ofthe socialist system, has been nationalized in abroader sense, and was centrally planned,directed and monitored for four decades,made both the society and professionalsworking in sport almost completely forget thatsport is originally a product of civil society.“ (Foldesi 1996; Gal 2011)
Characteristics of East European Capitalism• Two major processes of social change simultaneously: - globalization - transition from state socialism• Distinctive development because: economic and political reforms have been overlapping with the transformation of property rights and reorganization of the society (Bruszt&Stark 2004)• Weakness of civil society: legacy of mandatory participation under communist ruling; persistence of vibrant private networks => aversion to public and voluntary activities. (Howard 2008)• Repositioning of sport: obstacles to a change in paradigm (Foldesi 2011)
Trends in Society’s Expectations• Intensification of societal problems => draw attention away from sport and had an (negative) affect on access to sports• Doping incidents (1988) and underachievement of athletes in popular sports (soccer; volleyball; basketball) led to decreased societal support of elite sports starting with 1984- 1986• Talent management system dissolved => less athletes and youth coaches – although excellent results – shortfall with the social base of elite sport• Attitude: No participation, no interest in sport (60% does not participate in any activity; 90% never attend any events;66.5% never watches any sports; 40% does not cheer for Hungarian athletes!)• Sport is NOT a public good even on consumption level: success sports are not “commercial success stories”
Trends in Sports’ Expectations• Major actors in sport set up old and new expectations toward society and state - legal stability; - autonomy vs public funding - accomplishment of sport politics by sport policy• “Loser of the transition” argued, communicated, and believed• Most important changes were triggered from outside – lack of strategy to answer adequately The stress on continuity might have prevented sport from total collapse and deeper crisis in short term, but the lack of more radical alternations in both managerial behavior and structures certainly hindered sport from true transformation in long term.
Trends in Sports’ Expectations (Cont’d)• Politicization: 3 acts, 8 changes at highest levels of governance• Re-centralization: necessity or refusal of state intervention; lack of financial, managerial, and moral background Instead PPP => local-central government funding• Paternalism: senior managers were socialized this way – shockingly large number of young athletes/managers proclaim the same views - Freedom has a contradictory nature in this respect! – partially as a result of a patronizing state
How Does the Hungarian Case Fit Into the Broader Theoretical Concept of Social Capital?• Dark side of social capital in sport: - Social exclusion and negative effect of bonding capital (Putnam) that reinforces “networks of insiders” - Interconnectedness between sport practices and the spheres external to sport - Social capital in sport helps to maintain a normative framework that is contradictory to idealized myths of sport being beneficial.• Instead of “bonding” – horizontally and vertically “linking” social capital can be noted and measured in sport (Cote 2001; Numerato&Baglioni 2012)
How Does the Hungarian Case Fit Into the Broader Theoretical Concept of Social Capital? (Cont’d)• The Hungarian Case: - Capacity of individuals to build strategically exclusive coalitions - ‘Relational resources’ instead of social capital that matters - Vertically linking social capital: connections with different positions - Horizontally linking resources based on ties with formal institutions - Lack of evaluation mechanism – contradictory to ethics and morals of sport - Lack of and misuse of societal trust - Manipulation of transparency (documents of decision making are not publicly available) - Manipulation of credibility (silencing critical voices) - Manipulation of interpretation (fixing issues)
Is There a Place for Athletes in Social Change?• Huge societal problems and inequalities based on race, gender, disability, economic situation – existing need• Individual’s hesitation between desire for freedom and paternalistic safety - it may lead to escaping from freedom• Civic engagement is low in Hungary - highly individualistic society• Athletes and the sport community in general see themselves as ‘losers of the transition’• Relatively low social status of athletes in society
Conclusion“The formal process of constitutional reform takes at least sixmonths; a general sense that things are moving up as a resultof economic reform is unlikely to spread before six years havepassed; the third condition of the road to freedom is toprovide the social foundations which transform theconstitution and the economy from fairweather institutionswhich can withstand the storms generated from within andwithout, and sixty years are barely enough to lay thesefoundations" (Dahrendorf, 1990