Abstract

Modernization and industrialization were core elements of the Communist agenda and reshaped rural life after World War Two. Although the shift toward large-scale agriculture was characterized by a decade-long unequal battle between the traditional peasantry and the Socialist state, the latter achieved collectivization by 1961, at last. In the following decades, the Hungarian cooperative model was labeled successful because of its efficiency (gross domestic product [GDP]) and its contribution to the standard of living in the Hungarian countryside. However, health reports revealed a different picture; the rates of suicide and alcoholism and the prevalence of depression and neurosis increased in these decades. What could explain these discrepancies? Were they the side effects of modernization or results of historical traumas (e.g., the repressed revolution of 1956 or violent collectivization campaigns between 1948 and 1961)? Around six hundred thousand people left the villages in the sixties, expressing that they saw no future for themselves in the countryside. This study aims to (1) explore these patterns and potential causes and (2) make the distinction between general (European modernization tendencies) and local (repressive political systems of the Eastern Bloc) effects. The research is primarily based on archival sources, such as county health reports and the archive of the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry.

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