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34 Program on Central and Eastern Europe

Social Rights Under State Socialism? Pensions & Housing in Hungarian Welfare State Development

1995 – Phineas Baxandall


Social rights moe different in Eastern Europe chan in the West. Their legacy reflects the very different relationship between Stale and eitizen, and the more instrwnemal use of law under Stale socialism. 'Ibis paper develops a model fel' diSlinguishing between different fCl'ms of social rights, not only in the West. but also as the eoneept might be applied 10 different )X"liods of Slate socialism. A tfPOlogy of different social rights is offered. and the IaSling legaciesof such rights moe ~amined in Hungarian pensIon and housing poliey since 1949. The paper is organized in four pans: 1) There is discussion of previous approaches 10 interpreting social rights in Eastern Europe. 2) A rough model is suggested 10 disUnguisb between varying coneeptions of social rights along two dimensions: lheir relative emphasis on substantive or procedural justice, and on e negative or positive derwOOn of the swe's obliP.,tion 10 fulfill these rights. The result is four elassificalions of rights. The reigning Anglo-Saxon conception of social rights is 1hereby distinguished not only &om the view employed by western welfare Slate advocates, but also from the Classical Communist Iogie and a Late Socialist fmn Ibat is most relevant 10 eontemporary Hungary. 3) It is argued Ibalthe informality of rights &hal was so central 10 the Late Socialist welfare Stale has in many war.s been reinforced by the process of cransformation from state socialism. 4) Housing and pension policy are used 10 illustrate the Hunpian rights legacy and bow it continues 10 influence social policy.