Remaking civil society under authoritarian capitalism

The case of the Orbán regime’s Hungarian Academy of Arts


  • Kristóf Nagy Central European University

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cultural politics and policy , civil society, authoritarian capitalism, state formation, Magyar Művészeti Akadémia (Hungarian Academy of Arts), Orbán regime


Authoritarian regimes are known for their attacks on civic organizations; however, this article demonstrates how such rules also set up and operate new forms of civil society. Drawing on a year-long ethnographic fieldwork at the cultural flagship institution of the Orbán-regime, the Hungarian Academy of Arts (HAA), this research engages with civic organizations often labeled as ‘uncivil,’ ‘dark,’ or ‘illiberal.’ Instead of applying the normative notion of civil society, it joins a century-long body of literature that, following Gramsci, stresses the integral nature of political and civil society. The article contributes to this research trajectory by spotlighting a new hegemonic regime’s dynamic remaking of civil society.

The article conceptualizes the process of remaking civil society and reveals four facets beyond top-down command (1) the making of clientelist social relations that affect both the privileged and the rank-and-file actors, (2) the managed articulation of dissent toward the regime that pacifies discontent (3) the relative autonomy of regime-allied civic organizations and (4) the orchestration of pre-existing bottom-up initiatives. By coining the concept of recivilization, this article contributes to understanding how emerging regimes remake civil society and mobilize voluntary social practices to maintain their rule. Through this understanding, this article highlights that authoritarianism is more than top-down ruling and suggests the novel notion of recivilization as a concept to capture the pro-systemic role of civil society.




How to Cite

Nagy, K. 2024. Remaking civil society under authoritarian capitalism: The case of the Orbán regime’s Hungarian Academy of Arts. Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics. 9, 4 (Mar. 2024), 80–100. DOI:



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