There is a general consensus in mainstream education sciences and sociology that the Hungarian educational system has long been highly selective. Although the majority of Hungarian society has high hopes that the educational system promotes social mobility, empirical studies show that the problem of selectivity has not been handled effectively, regardless of the multitude of changes in education policy in past decades. It has become a very fashionable theme in the past few years to denounce the detrimental effects of neoliberalism on the educational system for this failing. We, however, argue that neoliberalism has only played a secondary role in the controversial evolution of educational policy, while its chief causes may rather be found in ambiguous education legislation.
As a result of the aforementioned controversy, the impact of neoliberal economic policy on the institutional selectivity of education needs to be clarified. Accordingly, this paper aims to highlight the main patterns of how the neoliberal idea has affected education, as well as its side effects on social mobility.
The present paper addresses the fragmented history of Hungarian legal anthropology. Although legal anthropology does not have a centuries-long tradition in Hungarian legal scholarship, the activities and publications of the late Ernő Tárkány Szücs, along with those of Sándor Loss and István H. Szilágyi, can be said to have established the scholarly framework for an anthropological understanding of law in Hungary. While not explicitly, all three authors relied on the folk concept of law and contributed to the introduction of a cultural aspect to the study of legal issues. The first part of the present paper discusses the work of the late Tárkány Szücs, the leading personality in the Hungarian legal ethnology movement after 1945, with a particular focus on how the author conceived the research of socialist legal folkways. Although Tárkány Szücs's frame of reference was legal ethnology, it can be argued that his insights into socialist legal folkways brought him close to an anthropological perspective. The second part of the paper presents in detail the research carried out by legal anthropologists in the 1990s, focusing on the work on Romani law carried out by István H. Szilágyi and Sándor Loss. It should be stressed that in this latter research, the methodology of participant observation was applied, thus expanding the toolkit of Hungarian legal scholarship to some extent. In conclusion, the paper argues that a proper understanding of everyday legal practice — including trouble-free cases — is impossible unless legal scholarship is liberated from the constraints of the analytical concept of law and exploits the freedom offered by the folk concept. The reinterpretation and revitalization of the broadly understood legal anthropological tradition — from the late Tárkány Szücs to H. Szilágyi and Loss — can be of significant help in this respect.