With the dismantling of the welfare state, nation states have gradually retreated from providing social protection and educational services across Europe. While in Western Europe market actors have been increasingly involved, in Hungary, following the 2010 victory of the right-wing populist coalition, a characteristically different mode of governing has been unfolding. State officials and key decision makers have publicly and repeatedly confirmed the alliance of church and state, and historical ’recognized’ churches have been strongly incentivized to take greater part in provisions of public education with generous state subsidies. As a consequence, independent church school networks have taken shape alongside state schools, and historical churches are developing their own education policies, administration and governing rationale. My presentation will focus on education policy-making in Hungary since 2010 with special regard to the novel role played by the churches as policy-making actors. Then I will turn to discuss the social justice effects of this new policy agenda, the ways in which these immense changes affect social segregation processes, reshape local power relations and access to services, and redraw social boundaries within local societies in disadvantaged regions.
Photo: Fortepan / Pál Schiffer’s collection (Tamás Féner’s photo)