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Accepted Paper:

Serving the poor or serving the state? Faith-based organisations, alternative modalities of social integration, and poverty management in semi-authoritarian Hungary  
Alexandra Szőke (Centre for Economic and Regional Studies) Tünde Virág (Centre for Economic and Regional Studies) Judit Keller (Center for Economic and Regional Studies)

Paper Short Abstract:

Through analysing the ascendance of a charity as they become the dominant political player in poverty management in Hungary, we show the possibilities and limitations of faith-based actors to introduce alternative modalities of social integration within the current semi-authoritarian context.

Paper Abstract:

The Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta plays a significant role in providing welfare services in the most marginalised places in Hungary. Churches and faith-based organizations (FBOs) have become important actors in provision of welfare across the globe, as states have outsourced responsibilities to a range of non-state institutions. In Hungary’s conservative, illiberal, ‘Christian’ political climate, churches and FBOs enjoy more autonomy and government support than the state’s own institutions. Since 2010 there has been increased welfare support for segments of the middle classes, punitive anti-poor measures, the dismantling of public services, decreasing social support and, in the most disadvantaged settlements, abandonment of state responsibilities. The case of this FBO is significant not only because it fulfils important welfare provision roles previously undertaken by the state, but also because it has a national policy making position. Through its role as the leader of a nation-wide social integration programme, it not only decides on the participant organisations and target settlements, but is also in a position to advance alternative more inclusive methods and approaches to poverty alleviation that run counter to the state’s dominant mode. At the same time, in a semi-authoritarian climate, their closeness to state power leads to a replication of clientalism and the differentiation between ‘favoured’ and ‘unfavoured’ actors, characteristic of the Hungarian polity. We draw on more than a decade of ethnographic and policy research into the charity’s various programmes and political ascendancy.

Panel P154
Reimagining welfare futures as things fall apart [Anthropologies of the State (AnthroState)]
  Session 1 Friday 26 July, 2024, -