While informal relations between economic and political actors are prevalent in post-communist economies, proper tools for their quantitative measurement are lacking. This paper is a starting point for thinking about this issue. Relying on previous research (Magyar – Madlovics 2020), we elaborate the concept of ‘relational economy,’ and discuss the problem of measuring its peculiar phenomena by existing direct and indirect data. Towards a set of indices for relational economy, we consider the use of proxies in three ways: (1) a radar chart composed of specific company data; (2) ‘moments of truth’ when property movements reveal an actor's de facto ownership status; and (3) ‘moments of truth’ when adoption to or exclusion from the informal patronal network is accompanied by a significant change in financial situation. Illustrations to each of the three methods are provided from the case of Hungary after 2010.
This paper discusses the contributions of János Kornai to the “language reform” of socialism and post-socialism, meaning the creation of new conceptual frameworks to replace the mainstream interpretation of the system with a more realistic, critical description. We show that, in the three waves of language reform under the Kádár regime – economics, sociology, and law – Kornai was a trailblazer by introducing concepts like “soft budget constraint,” “plan bargaining,” and “shortage,” which became key concepts for reform economists and dissident intellectuals in Eastern Europe. We discuss Kornai's work on post-socialism as well, particularly his paper “The System Paradigm Revisited,” and point out its merits and shortcomings in the description of the regimes of the region. Presenting our offer for a new language reform, based on Kornai, we underline the importance of proper words for understanding “actually existing post-socialism,” and the task of political economists to revise the current mainstream and analyse the phenomena of post-communist “relational economies.”