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Scope and content (abstract)
Sociologist István Kemény (1925-2008) left an immense intellectual legacy to a group of sociologists who were already calling themselves the Kemény School during his lifetime. His taboo-breaking inquiries into the problems of economics and society re-thematized the theory and practice of sociology in Hungary in the 1970s and 80s, meeting with the harsh disapproval of the state socialist regime. Refused the right to work and build an academic career, after years of insecurity Kemény eventually left the country. He was first targeted by state security organizations in 1956, and after the crushing of the revolution he was sentenced to four years in prison during the trial of László Kardos et al., and amnestied only in May 1959. After his release he worked free-lance for several years, since sociological research as such was prohibited between 1948 and 1963. His first research project within an institutional framework took place in 1963, when the Hungarian Central Statistical Office hired him for the Office’s social stratification research. Several of the large scale research projects that he led before his emigration were acclaimed for their methodological innovation and for openly contradicting official propaganda. In 1979, the Foundation for Supporting the Poor was established by the young sociologists who had participated in Kemény’s research projects on the poor and the Roma. The Foundation became one of the most important organizations of the democratic opposition.
Kemény did not give up research as an émigré (1977-1990) and was active in other areas too: he made programs for Radio Free Europe, published articles on his own research and political topics, in Irodalmi Újság, for instance, which was the most important Hungarian language émigré periodical. Furthermore, together with Péter Kende (sociologist, 1927-), he founded and edited the periodical Hungarian Booklets.
After returning to Hungary he became the President of the Hungarian Sociological Association in 1992, then Vice President, as well as being chief advisor to Mayor of Budapest Gábor Demszky (1952-).
The first sub-fonds of the collection includes the documents relating to Kemény’s sociological research activities, interviews and background material, as well as published papers based thereon. Several of these writings were not allowed to go to print at the time of their creation.
The second sub-fonds consists of documents collected while he lived abroad, including material pertaining to his program on Radio Free Europe and issues of the Hungarian Booklets and the Literary Gazette published in Paris.
The third sub-fonds is made up of the records of the state security investigations and trials in the cases of László Kardos and István Bibó. Documents of other cases are included in fragmentary form.
The fourth sub-fonds includes Kemény’s other articles on public politics and sociology.
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During the course of processing no materials have been removed.