Outside and inside – three times. Border, Locality, and Ethnicity - Coping and Grabbing Strategies in Four Border Regions in Post-socialist Hungary

Project Leader

Kovács, Éva


Fleck, Gábor
Kovács, Éva
Messing, Vera
Virág, Tünde
Vidra, Zsuzsa

The research

Concept and hypothesis The general focus of our research is how have socio-economic possibilities and constrains of the borders been influenced by the economic and political transition, by the old and new actors and institutions of the forming market economy. We are in particularly interested in to what extent and in what ways have - different “life-cycles” of the borders (while some of them have become less others more permeable) among the member states and countries out of the EU, - new cooperative and competitive formations (depending on the already existing socio-economic and cultural basis) of these regions, - (often ethnically determined) coping and grabbing strategies and social groups, been influenced differently these processes. In peripheral and economically disadvantageous regions Gypsy/Roma people very often have low social-economical status which is often institutionalised by various forms of discrimination such as segregation in schools, labour market discrimination, lack of access to public and health services, etc. Sometimes, however, within these discriminated groups new and innovative entrepreneurial activities come into being which decrease their disadvantaged economic and social status such as migration chains, informal enterprises, “ethno-business” etc. In this respect our research we will focus on the different - ways of economic relations based on cooperation and competition among different local actors (both in the formal and informal economy) are formed and function, - role of cultural (such as local patriotism, regional consciousness, ethnicity, etc.) and network capital play in this process, - internal and international migration strategies (or the lack of them), - modes (if any) “ethnic resources” emerging either as a consequence of lacking access to resources or as unintended outcome of the unsuccessful struggle for resources, - socio-economic activities determined by the borderland situation. Methodology
Community studies type field research in four different border regions, using the combination of different interview, participant observation and other qualitative research techniques. The selected regions are as follows: - South-Baranya (Harkány – Siklós – Villány – Boly – Mohács “pentagon”) - Territorial disadvantages and strong social segregation as well as successful economic cooperation among small enterprises within certain ethnic groups (Swabians, Croats and Boyash Gypsies) and innovative “migration experiments” (of certain Gypsy groups to Canada and Sweden) are important characteristics of this region. - Abaúj (Szikszó – Encs – Edelény – Szendrő “tetragon”) - This area nowadays is the most disadvantaged region in the country suffering almost full scale deindustrialization. Local Hungarian and Gypsy families are trying to survive by following path dependent (pre-socialist) migration patterns such as commuting to regions in demand of labour and to abroad. - Körös (Békés – Sarkad – Komádi – Vésztő “tetragon”) - While commuting of Romanian Gypsy employees is continuous (mostly for seasonal work in agriculture), outward migration from the region to Romanian border cities where more and more “LOHN system” light-industrial units (the buyer delivers all materials to the producer, who only provides the labour and the workplace, after which the buyer re-imports the finished merchandise) is more and more frequent. - Komárom and its vicinity (Komárom – Esztergom – Tata „triangle”) - Due to advantageous spatial conditions and good infrastructure multinational companies frequent the region. The industrial development created high labour demand made the region an important target for labour migration from Slovakia as well.